Reflection on Father’s Life: Wealth or Soul
By Xin Zhi
My father had been a very hard worker for as long as I could remember. In order to earn money, he bought a piece of land to plant cotton, and he also made vermicelli and tofu. No matter how hard or tiring the work was, he was willing to do it as long as he could make more money. My father indeed had worked very hard for the first half of his life. My younger brother also started working with our father when he grew up, but the money they earned was kept securely by our father. Normally, my father was reluctant to spend money eating well or dressing well, but rather he saved up all the money, and even when it was Chinese New Year or other holidays he was unwilling to spend a cent. He was still working laboriously for money when all four of my siblings and I had started our own families. All of us tried to persuade him, “Stop working, you are so old now. We have grown up and do not have to spend your money anymore! We can take care of you.” But he said, “No way! Is it fine without money? I feel more convenient spending my own money. Money is my only reliance!” He never listened to us, no matter what we said.
My father still built houses for others to earn money even at 73. He still kept his money secure, and because of this, my mother often quarreled with him. Regardless of how we persuaded our father, we could never be able to stop him from making money. Even if my younger brother was going to leave home to start his own family, my father still said, “You can take whatever you want in this house apart from my money!” My father always had the mindset: Money is our reliance, and money can give us peace and money is everything.
Until a day, I suddenly received a call from my younger sister. She told me that our father suffered from carcinoma of gastric cardia and it was the final stage, and that now he was preparing for surgery. Hearing this news, I was shocked, thinking, “My father was always very healthy, how did he suffer the last stage of cancer? This could take his life away!” Then, I traveled hastily to the hospital. When I saw my father lying on the bed, I felt uncomfortable and distressed. At that time, he no longer had the energy and strength to work for money. Because of surgery, he had tubes all over his body and wore an oxygen mask. Under the torment of illness, he could barely talk, and only lie in bed helplessly. I tried my best to hold back my tears as I noticed his helpless look. Even though I felt bad for my father, I had no idea how to comfort him. As a daughter, what I could do was only try my very best to take care of him during the last period of his life.
During the period of radiotherapy, my father couldn’t eat anything. Through months of suffering, he had become emaciated, and was dying. My mother said that my father had spent all the money he had saved up treating his illness. However, no amount of money could save his life. For his entire life, my father had worked endlessly for money, and he was reluctant to eat well or dress well. But now he could only lie in bed, unable to speak, and could only submit to the will of Heaven, waiting helplessly for fate’s decree. Looking at his complicated expression, I did not know what he was thinking. In the end, surgery couldn’t save his life. At the moment before he died, he said, “Money is useless.” Then he left us forever with regrets, with his eyes wide open.
My siblings and I buried our father with deep sadness in our heart. In pain, I recalled my father’s words on his deathbed, “Money is useless.” For his entire life, my father had held money firmly in his hands, and he thought having money meant having reliance and that money could give him everything. However, when illness befell him, money couldn’t save his life, nor could it prolong his life either. Only when he was at the end of the road did he realize that what he went after was meaningless, but he had already paid his life for it. Wasn’t it too late to regret? Looking how my father left with regrets, I couldn’t help but think of myself.
Under my father’s influence, I believed in the sayings, “Money is first,” “Money makes the mare go.” Therefore, after marriage, I worked hard on the land and took good care of the crops, hoping the crops could produce more grains to sell. In order to make more money, I started side businesses such as raising rabbits, and selling tofu and lime paste. Although my hands were burnt by lime, and they were peeling and had a lot of blisters, I would never complain how hard or tiring it was as long as I achieved my goal of getting money. In the end, I had the money, but illness came along with it as well.
Thinking back to how my father had spent his whole life going after money and treated it as his only reliance, I asked myself, “Am I just behaving like him?” My father realized that money was not his reliance only when he was on the brink of death, and in the end he died with everlasting regrets. His last words and his pathetic life made me feel compelled to reflect on myself: Was I really going to be like him? Then I thought of many celebrities and successful personalities, such as: Mr Wang the founder of JuneYao Group, Mr Wu the former director of UNIFON Group, and Mr Wang the director of TongYu Group in Nanyang. They all were people with a net worth over billions. However, when illness and death befell them, money couldn’t buy their lives. I didn’t want to repeat the tragedy of those who had died, but what should I do to not leave any regrets when I die?
Just as I was bewildered and helpless in life, I saw a paragraph of God’s words one day, “People spend their lives chasing after money and fame; they clutch at these straws, thinking they are their only means of support, as if by having them they could keep on living, could exempt themselves from death. But only when they are close to dying do they realize how distant these things are from them, how weak they are in the face of death, how easily they shatter, how lonely and helpless they are, with nowhere to turn. They realize that life cannot be bought with money or fame, that no matter how wealthy a person is, no matter how lofty his or her position is, all people are equally poor and inconsequential in the face of death. They realize that money cannot buy life, that fame cannot erase death, that neither money nor fame can lengthen a person’s life by a single minute, a single second.”
These words struck me hard. Indeed, in our life, we all have been rushing about for the sake of money and status, thinking of money as our assets, as our only reliance and sustenance in life. We even feel that no matter how much effort we put into getting more money, it’s worthwhile. However, only when death approaches us do we realize that money only satisfies our fleshly desires momentarily, bringing us superior material life, but it can never save our lives. In the face of death, money is like wasted paper, useless, weak and worthless.
Recalling the path I had been walking, I saw I was on the same path as my father. I lived based on Satan’s life philosophies such as: “Money makes the mare go,” “Money is first,” “Money is not everything, but without it, you can do nothing” and “You can be without anything but money.” At the time, I thought of my father’s life: He had spent his whole life chasing after money, and even at the age of seventy he was still reluctant to rest; he held money tightly in his hands, reluctant to eat well or dress well throughout his life; only at the moment of his death did he realize that the money he had gone after for his whole life couldn’t save him, but it was too late to realize that and he left with regrets. But now I was still on my father’s path, viewing money as the goal of my life pursuit. I had been rushing about for the sake of money, and overworking also caused me to have many illnesses, with my heart filled with pain and helplessness. Weren’t these all because of Satan’s affliction? It turns out that chasing after money is a wrong path, and it cannot bring us any real happiness but temporary physical enjoyments. My father left with regrets. I did not want to repeat the path he had walked, and I wanted to find a new start in life.
Later, I saw another paragraph of God’s words: “If one wishes to depart from this world painlessly, if one wants to be able to face life’s final juncture with no reluctance or worry, the only way is to leave no regrets. And the only way to depart without regrets is to know the Creator’s sovereignty, to know His authority, and to submit to them. Only in this way can one stay far from human strifes, from evil, from Satan’s bondage; only in this way can one live a life like Job’s, guided and blessed by the Creator, a life that is free and liberated, a life with value and meaning, a life that is honest and openhearted; only in this way can one submit, like Job, to be tried and deprived by the Creator, submit to the Creator’s orchestrations and arrangements; only in this way can one worship the Creator all one’s life and win His commendation, as Job did, and hear His voice, see Him appear; only in this way can one live and die happily, like Job, with no pain, no worry, no regrets; only in this way can one live in light, like Job, pass every one of life’s junctures in light, smoothly complete one’s journey in light, successfully achieve one’s mission — to experience, learn, and come to know the Creator’s sovereignty as a created being — and pass away in light, and for ever after stand at the Creator’s side as a created human being, commended by Him.”
When we don’t come before God, nor seek the truth in His words as life, we can never know how to distinguish between positive and negative things and see through Satan’s trickery. Even if we are aware that chasing after wealth is meaningless, we can’t help but follow this evil trend, worshiping and seeking money, and being tempted by Satan to go on the wrong path. Only God’s words are the truth and can be the guidance in our lives. By following the incorrect viewpoints Satan imbued us with, we will never obtain the truth, but only go in the opposite direction from God, so that our whole life will be in vain. The only way to depart without regrets is to come before God, accept the watering of His words, and worship the unique true God. God’s words are the truth, the way and the life. When we read more of God’s words, know more truths and live in accordance with His words and truths, we will know how to distinguish between positive and negative things and not be swept away so easily by evil trends from satan. When we truly submit to God’s authority and sovereignty and seek to know Him, we will live under His guidance and blessings. In this way, we can live a meaningful and valuable life, and our lives will also thus blossom marvelously in this short life!
Just like Job, he had been pursuing to attain fearing God and shunning evil for his entire life; he knew that blessings or disasters can’t be decided by man, and wealth is also not achieved by man alone, but all things are predestined by God, and that whatever God does is the best for man, and God forever deserves the praise from man. Hence, when Job was wealthy, he did not work even harder for more money, but calmly faced God’s blessings; when he lost all his money and his body was full of sore boils, he did not complain about God but still praised His name. Regardless of whether he received blessings or suffered misfortune, regardless of whether he was possessed of great wealth or had nothing, he could face them calmly due to his true knowledge of God’s authority and real fear and obedience of God. At last, his testimony got the approval of God, and he was called righteous, obtaining peace and serenity in his heart and spirit. Job had been living under God’s guidance and protection for the latter half of his life, and he was freed from Satan’s invasion and disturbance, completely attaining true freedom, and in the end, he died with no regrets. He truly lived out a meaningful life.
Now I read God’s words every day, live the church life, and also perform my duty as a creature of God. The more God’s words I read, the more truths I understand, so that I am able to distinguish some wrong viewpoints and no longer feel constrained by them. I stopped being a workaholic to make money, and learned to submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangements and focus on how to live a meaningful life. Now my life is enriched, and I also feel peaceful in my heart and spirit, which is something that money can never be exchanged for! I really thank God for His salvation!