Following the Lord’s Leading
Out of Egypt
I believe an excellent picture that I can use to share with you my testimony is the book of Exodus. I can testify that the Lord, through His mercy and grace, has been bringing me out of Egypt, out of the world with all of its attractions and temptations, and closer to Himself and deeper into the church life. Exodus 19:4 states: “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself”.
By the Lord’s mercy and grace, both my parents were saved and brought into the church when I was three years old. My parents were originally working in China in the medical field. However, my mom had a strong desire to migrate to the United States, and she persuaded my dad to complete his medical residency in New York City. This paved the way for my family to migrate to the United States and to live in Manhattan. In Manhattan, my parents met the saints and they were saved and baptized. We then began meeting with the church in New York City. Without the Lord’s sovereign arrangement for my family to migrate to the United States, we would not have been saved nor would we have come into the church life. Thus, I grew up in the church, regularly attending the children’s meetings.
Beginning My Christian Walk
A couple years later, my family migrated to Davis, California. When I attended a sixth grade conference there, I was saved through the gospel preaching of the serving brothers. I was really touched by Isaiah 55:6-7:
Seek Jehovah while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the evildoer, his thoughts;
And let him return to Jehovah, and He will have compassion on him;
And to our God, for He will pardon abundantly.
I really appreciate that this verse shows that our God is near! We can find our God and come to know Him as a real and living person. He is compassionate toward us and He will pardon us of our sin. To find my God, all I have to do is call upon His name, Lord Jesus. When I called Lord Jesus, I felt a treasure chest open up in my being. Second Corinthians 4:7 states: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us.” This was my experience of salvation. I received a treasure into my earthen vessel and I can now enjoy all the riches of my God.
God is Near
I was baptized and I began my Christian walk with my Lord. I was speaking and sharing my experiences every Lord’s Day, and I regularly prayed to the Lord in the morning with another brother. In ninth grade, I fractured my skull and had to be rushed to the emergency room. During this time, I was confused as to what had happened. In the ER, the doctors and nurses had strapped me down to a bed. Because I was unable to move and I was very thirsty, all I could think to do was to call on the name of the Lord. “Lord Jesus, I am thirsty!” Although I didn’t receive any water for medical reasons, it was still reassuring to cry out to my God. During the following weeks, I had difficulty sleeping due to severe headaches. I was taking pain medication, but I still had a hard time. To help with the pain, my parents and I prayed to the Lord every night. During this time, I could sense that the Lord was with me. He helped make the pain bearable and helped me recover. I can really testify that God is near! When you call upon His name, He is right there. You may not be able to see Him physically, but you can sense Him inwardly.
Finding the Lord’s Presence Again
In the middle of these experiences of calling on the name of the Lord, the Lord had also been drawing me away from many other things. These other things included video games, school, clubs, and my career. When I entered Northwestern University, I wanted to be more proactive and pursue my own personal interests. I was a mechanical engineering major and I joined clubs that were related to mechanical engineering.
I became heavily involved in two activities: the Northwestern Formula Racing Team and the Neuroscience and Robotics Lab (NxR Lab). Along with these two activities and school, I was also part of Christians on Campus and meeting with the saints in Chicago.
Initially, I was able to balance all of these activities. But as the school year progressed, I became more involved with the formula team and in the NxR Lab. As a result, I began to attend fewer meetings with the saints. Eventually, I was not attending the meetings regularly. Outwardly, I was doing many things – taking five classes, building race cars, and building robots. If someone were to look at my situation outwardly, they would say that I was doing very well. But inwardly, I was miserable. I had few touches with my Lord and little spiritual enjoyment.
I remember during sophomore year a time when I was playing hymns on my guitar. I stumbled upon the song, “Mary poured out her love offering.” This is the first stanza:
Mary poured out her love offering
To many such love was a waste.
Throughout all of the centuries
Such lovers Your sweetness do taste.
Precious lives and heart treasures, too
Positions and golden futures,
Have been “wasted” on You, Lord;
Your sweetness a fragrance so sure.
She took opportunity
To love You; Lord, with her best.
Like her, Lord, I too would pour
My love and all that I have.
I was touched by this song. Here I was, focusing my entire being on my career and my future. However, so many others had instead chosen to pour out their golden futures upon the Lord and follow Him. My ambition and self-focus resulted in misery. I realized that instead of being in misery, I could give all of these things to the Lord and enjoy His sweet presence. I realized that I needed to be more serious about following the Lord and be more diligent in seeking Him.
On the one hand, I still needed to be in school and take care of my responsibilities. On the other hand, I began to learn to enjoy the Lord in the midst of these activities and to give the Lord the first place in my heart. When I was building components in the machine shop, I sang hymns to the Lord. As I studied and took exams, I called on the name of the Lord and prayed to Him. I began to regularly read two chapters of the Bible every day and contact the Lord in the mornings. Spending these times throughout the day to enjoy the Lord and read His Word really made a huge difference in my life. It brought me real joy and satisfaction. It gave me the strength to handle the pressure and anxieties from school and club activities.
Now, I have continued these habits of reading the Word and contacting the Lord throughout the day. Outwardly I need to work to provide for myself, but inwardly, I can continue to enjoy my Lord throughout the day.
I also really appreciate Deuteronomy 30:19b-20a: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life that you and your seed may live, in loving Jehovah your God by listening to His voice and holding fast to Him; for He is your life and the length of your days”. I have realized that I have so many opportunities to choose life, that is, to choose the Lord throughout the day. When I choose to enjoy the Lord instead of so many other things, the Lord really blesses me with joy and satisfaction and gives me His Life.
Likewise, I have also realized that being with other believers gives me real joy. I need to be with the other brothers and sisters. Work does not bring me that much joy, but meeting with the saints and shepherding one another brings me real joy and satisfaction. This includes spending time with other brothers, coming to the Lord’s Table meeting, going to the prayer meeting, and going to the home meetings.
I really thank the Lord for all the experiences He has given me. He is leading me out of the world and into Himself and into the church life. He has been changing the meaning of my life from my career and my interests to Christ and the Church. What a blessing it is to enjoy the Lord and to be with the saints!
The Lord’s Leading
Second Corinthians 5:15 says, “And He died for all that those who live may no longer live to themselves but to Him who died for them and has been raised”. This is a verse that touched me recently. The Lord has called us that we would serve Him according to His leading and not live for our own purpose. The Lord has been calling me to come to the Training that I may be trained to serve Him according to the portion He has allotted me.
His calling for me to come to the Training began during my sophomore year in college. I had already heard about the Full-Time Training in Anaheim as a young person. My initial reactions to the training was, “I do not want to give up two years of my life.” During my first two years of college, I forgot about the Training and instead set myself on achieving excellent grades and preparing for my future career as a mechanical engineer. Every time I met with my advisor, I would present him with a new variation of my plan for the rest of my college years. At one of those advising sessions, my advisor gave me some very particular advice. He explained:
“Engineers have a difficult time ‘taking a step back’ from a problem. We, as engineers, have a tendency to push forward until ‘the’ solution is found. However, in engineering, it is also important to take a step back away from engineering for a period of time and in a sense, have your brain be bored. This is not only healthy, but also good for your engineering mindset. It will help you see problems from a different perspective.”
My advisor was trying to persuade me to consider traveling abroad after I completed my engineering degree. However, all I could think about was the Full-Time Training. I sensed inwardly that this was the Lord calling me to come to the Full-Time Training. After this advising session, I wrote down the advice and I kept these words in my heart as I continued my schooling and club activities.
In junior year, a group of us decided to read Vessels Useful to the Lord together. This book enlightened me that I need a lot of training and adjustment in order to be useful to the Lord. A few weeks later, we reached the chapter, “The Need for Training”. I remember reading the title and then looking at the full-timers. One of them smiled back and responded endearingly and inquisitively, “Preston?” I sensed that this was also the Lord asking me, “What about your need to be trained?”
Committing to the Full-Time Training
For the next few weeks, I prayed to the Lord concerning the Training. I also began to fellowship with the full-timers and my parents. I am so thankful that both of my parents were fully supportive. To them, it made complete sense. I also agreed that there would be no other point in my life where I would be able to easily give up two years of my life. After this fellowship, I had the sense that I should go to the Training. I felt peace in my being.
Meanwhile, I had been invited to join two engineering honor societies. Membership into both societies required attending an initiation ceremony. At the ceremony, we were led into a dark room. Then, five people at the front of the room were dimly illuminated and they began reading from their prepared scripts to initiate us into the society.
During this time, I felt that this was a weird atmosphere. It seemed like this could be a comparable setting for demonic worship. I began to call on the name of the Lord in my heart. Toward the end of the ceremony, the society leaders began talking about the organization’s symbol and its significance. At that moment, I realized that we were in a setting where we were practically worshipping that symbol. This was what the world was giving us as a reward for our hard work. We could now embellish our resumes and profiles with this symbol. We also had to verbally pledge to follow the organization’s rules and ideals.
I could only conclude that this was vanity and that this contradicted Matthew 4:10 which says: “For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’” At this point, I renewed my consecration to the Lord. I consecrated myself, the rest of my college years, and my career to Him. I also firmly consecrated myself to go to the Full-Time Training.
Looking Away to Jesus
Having made this choice to go to the Training, I can testify that this has been governing my life for the past year and a half. There have been many cases where the world has offered its riches to me at the cost of attending the Full-Time Training. One example includes turning down a full-time engineering position. At a job interview, I told the manager that I would only be able to work for a few months because I would be going to Bible school. He told me that I was the exact type of person they were looking for, but he was unwilling to let me work for only a few months. He asked me if there was any chance I would consider not going to Bible school, and implied that He would offer me a position if I would not attend Bible school. By the Lord’s grace and mercy, I firmly told him that I am set on attending Bible school.
I really appreciate two verses from Hebrews. Hebrews 11:6 says, “For he who comes forward to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:24-26 says, “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be ill-treated with the people of God than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin, considering the reproach of the Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked away to the reward.” The Lord reminded me that He is a rewarder to those who diligently seek Him. I need to diligently seek Him in both the good and the bad times. Even when outwardly it may seem that things are not going well, that I may be suffering physical loss, or that the Lord doesn’t seem near, I still should seek the Lord by faith. No doubt, the Lord will reward such a diligent seeking. Likewise, I need to keep looking away from these worldly riches to Jesus, that the world would not distract me from following my Lord to attend the Full-Time Training.
Lord Jesus, I give myself to You again. I give You my time, my money, my information, and my relationships. May You be head over these items. I give to You my going to the Training. I consecrate these upcoming two years to You. May You use this time to train me and perfect me, that I may be Your faithful servant. Make me one who is buildable and one who can be used to build Your church. Praise You Lord for all that You have done in me. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for Your mercy and Your grace. Amen.