I spent a pleasant time with the singles of Lifespring, but the whole time the situation with Jasmine and Anton played in the back of my head. It was unconscionable what he was doing to her! Even though most of the people I hung out with were friendly and kind and glowed with God, towards the end I found myself a little moody and terse with them. After I left, I wondered if I had offended any, but couldn’t really do anything about it at that moment.
I got home and after a few moments of indecision flipped on my computer, figuring I’d look at my favorite comic strips and maybe watch an episode of my favorite show. And that was when it hit: just as my browser opened to the usual search box, I found myself flooded with intensely lustful feelings towards Jasmine and even more intense violent intentions towards Anton. This was a shock to me: my clear vision has kept me pretty much immune to a sensual attraction to the opposite sex. When a beautiful woman turns into a stick figure, a corpse, or a hulking monster when you take off your glasses, you tend to lose interest in them. After all, the only woman I’d ever been remotely attracted to was Jasmine and that was because of her shining with Jesus. That was gone now. Why should I be feeling this way?
I tried shoving these emotions away from me, loading up the show on my computer, but it wouldn’t come up. Maybe the site was having an issue, I thought. Only a few fragmentary pictures loaded, one of them only for a moment before my advertisement blocker caught it and hid it, but in that instant, I’d seen what was obviously the face and hair of a beautiful woman. Once more those intense feelings surged over me. What could I do? In that moment, the thought came: Get away; do not be alone! But where should I go? I wondered. Mrs. Chung was away with her family. Family … my family.
I leaped up, leaving the computer running, grabbed my car keys, and headed over to my parents’ house, my heart and head still pounding with rage and lust. I pulled up and breathed in and out deeply.
“God, help me,” I whispered, taking off my glasses and dropping them on the passenger seat. “Jesus, please help me!” Again the urge not to be alone flooded me and I got out of the car, walked up to the door and went in.
“Sam!” My gorgeous, glorious mother was standing there, blazing like the very sun. She’d obviously just spent time with God, and it flowed off her in peaceful waves, pushing back at the darkness that surrounded me. She looked at me, puzzled.
“Are you all right, son?” she asked.
“I am now,” I managed to push out. “I just needed to be with someone.”
“Well, come to the patio,” she said, taking my hand. “Your father and I just finished up our Sabbath reading.”
“Maybe we can read some more,” I suggested. She smiled at that, and her shine increased in anticipation. Coming out on the patio, my hero father rose to greet me. He looked at me critically for a moment.
“Are you all right, son?” he asked in the same words as my mother, and I couldn’t hold it in anymore.
“No, I’m not,” I said. “I feel … angry and …” I couldn’t bring myself to say the words.
“Come, sit down,” Dad said, pulling me to one of the other chairs around the cast iron table. “Tell me about it.” Suddenly I was flustered. What would my parents think if they knew I’d gone to Lifespring? Would they disown me because I’d chosen to visit a church that was different from theirs? But then I remembered the preacher’s teaching: the richness, the depth, the practicality; and I knew that it was right to have gone there. This was rooted somewhere else. So I told them where I’d been.
“Yes, Lifespring has become a very good church over the last few years,” my father said with a satisfied smile, much to my surprise. “Ever since Tom Klein took over as pastor it has improved.” He shook his head slightly. “Of course, I don’t care for the music much, but the preaching is very solid.”
“You’ve been there?” I asked incredulously.
“Yes,” he replied. “The Elders decided we should visit each of the area churches at least once every couple of months to foster unity among the greater body. I’ve been to Lifespring twice now. If that is where God calls you to, then go by all means.” I felt myself expand at that. My father had approved of my choice! He looked at me critically, then.
“But that’s not all that happened, is it?” he asked pointedly, and I wondered if my father had the same ability to see as I did.
“No,” I said and told him about meeting Jasmine and Anton. I wasn’t sure how far to take it, but once the cork was out, the whole thing poured out. Dad looked very thoughtful as I told him of the intense emotions that had driven me here.
“I just have to do something to help Jasmine, Dad,” I told him. “I want her to shine again, like she used to when I was in high school. She was the most beautiful person….”
“And she still is, son,” my mother put in. She’d brought out a fresh glass of her sun tea for me, something that always made me feel at home and relaxed.
“But she doesn’t look that way now,” I wailed. “What can I do?” Both Mom and Dad were quiet for a long moment, looking at each other. I could see from the increased glow around them that they were both praying. Finally, it was my father who spoke.
“Start by praying for them both, Sam,” he said. “Pray for them to change. Don’t interfere until God makes it very clear that you are to act.”
“And, sweetheart,” my mother added kindly, “make sure that your heart is right before God when it comes to Jasmine. Is all that you really want for her to shine again? Or is there more that you desire?” My heart skipped a beat. It was like she’d just looked into my soul and pulled out a dark, hidden secret that even I did not know was there. Yes, I wanted more than simply having Jasmine glow again: I wanted Jasmine. Was that even right? Wasn’t it enough to see her shine? What would it be like to live with someone like me, who could instantly pinpoint the spiritual state of anyone who was around them? Wouldn’t that be a burden to such a person? I couldn’t make a decision at that point, but knew I must, must come to grips with it as soon as possible.
“Well, son, let’s pray,” my father interrupted and did so. His rich words warmed me to the core, and it felt to me like the attack I’d just been through had been thoroughly thwarted. As he finished, I felt like I wanted to tell him something, to thank him for what he’d just done for me.
“Dad,” I said, “have you ever heard of putting on the armor of God?”