The following afternoon I went to visit Dr. Sage again and we discussed various things, including those intense feelings that I’d had and how I’d handled them.
“What you did was very good,” Dr. Sage told me. “Of course, you can’t always get away to see people like you did yesterday. In cases like that it’s good to have memorized some Scripture that you can quote to counter the Enemy’s attacks.”
We also talked about the service and I asked him why the songs were so dissonant to the sermon.
“Now that’s an interesting observation, Sam,” my mentor said. “It often depends on the song leader. If he or she is in tune with the Spirit, then the music and the sermon will mesh perfectly. If the leader is not focusing on what the Spirit wants, but rather on what he or she wants, then you end up with songs that carry a different message from what the Spirit is saying through the preacher.” He smiled ruefully. “You kind of came on a bad week. When Anton leads there is often such a dissonance. However, when Gloria or Kenneth lead, the service is much more of a unity. Rick does a decent job, too, most of the time, but he hasn’t been leading since Anton was asked to join the worship team.”
“You have more than one worship leader?” I asked, surprised.
“Yes, we find it’s better that way,” Dr. Sage pointed out. “Each of the leaders gets a break to actually focus on joining into worship themselves; it gives us a positive variety and it allows more people to use their gifts.”
“How long has Anton been leading?” I wondered and instantly regretted the question; it was beside the point.
“Oh, a few months, maybe.” Dr. Sage compressed his lips as if he was going to say something more, but then changed the topic. I thought about Anton’s spiritually lupine features and wondered why he looked like that.
“Dr. Sage, what do you think it means if someone attending a church looks like a wolf?” His eyebrows went up.
“Someone looks like a wolf?” he returned. “Now that’s an image.” He smiled for a moment. “It sounds much like the way Jesus describes false teachers, ‘They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.’ (Mat. 7:15b – NIV84) Perhaps if someone looks like that, they have entered the fold to take over and build themselves up at the expense of others. Did you have someone in mind, Sam?” I was flustered. Anton very well could be part of the fellowship in that way, trying to push himself forward for his own glory. His possessiveness around Jasmine could suggest that. But was it fair to say anything about it to Dr. Sage? What was his position in the church? If he was a leader, then perhaps it would be worth telling him, but for now I decided to let it pass.
“I’m not at the point where I can talk about that yet, sir,” I told him.
“Very well, Sam,” he said, obviously respecting my decision. “Let’s talk about motives today.” It was just what I wanted to discuss. We talked about how we always have mixed motives and how important it was to make sure we analyze our motives, especially in sticky situations.
“There will be times when you must make quick decisions, when you can’t take a long time to think through what is motivating you,” my mentor explained. “For that reason you need to practice doing this when you have the time and learn to do it well, so when you get into those situations, you’ll be able to think more quickly and accurately and act in tune with the Spirit.” He showed me how he would use his journal to work through his thoughts and suggested I try it, too. That was my homework for the week and it was precisely what I needed at that moment. I knew exactly what motives I was going to sift through: those in regard to my wanting to help Jasmine regain her shine. I started right after my solitary dinner that evening, taking out a sheet of paper and writing down all the reasons I could think of for helping Jasmine. There were many selfish ones: wanting to have her for my own, my glory, punishing Anton for hurting her, being perceived as a hero, earning my place in the church, just to name a few. But there were also good ones: wanting to see Jasmine truly be in tune with Jesus again, seeing her healed, helping Anton see what he was doing so he could repent and come to Jesus, protecting the other believers from the threat I knew he posed. As I looked at the list and marked the positive ones with a green marker and the negative ones with a red one, then I prayed through the list as Dr. Sage taught me, embracing the good motives and rejecting the bad ones, repenting of them before Jesus.
The exercise brought me a joy and relaxation. Dr. Sage had suggested destroying the list after I was done, but something held me back. Instead, I wrote at the bottom, “Pray for Jasmine and Anton every day,” and hung it on the wall beside my computer. I was not going to allow my negative motives to affect this rescue effort and I was going to do all I could to make it work, beginning with prayer.
My week continued as normal with tea and prayer with Mrs. Chung, though this now shifted to Thursday as her church had started a prayer meeting on Wednesdays again. She told me that she’d found some allies in a few friends from another church, who had agreed to come to her church on Wednesday nights and pray for revival and the exorcism of the agents of evil that were tearing down her Pastor Charlie. I also told her what I couldn’t tell Dr. Sage, namely about Anton and his wolfish aspect. She was silent for a long moment as she considered this.
“Sam, you’re facing something similar to what I’m up against, if on a smaller scale. Find yourself some allies, some prayer warriors who will stand with you and keep you safe.” She smiled. “I will certainly pray with you about this.”
“Can I ask you something else, Mrs. Chung?” I said. She nodded and after a long moment I pushed out, “Do you think that someone who has my gift should get married?” Her eyebrows went up and she smiled oddly.
“I really don’t know, young man,” she replied after pondering a bit. “For those who know what you can see, you will be very intimidating. That is, unless they are very mature.” She paused and thought more. “I can tell you this however, having been both married and single, that there are certain freedoms that you will have as a single, that you will have to give up when you marry. God gives both gifts freely and means for us to enjoy both, but,” here she raised a shining finger, “it is not wise to try to find a husband or wife at all costs. If you do that, you’ll be denying the gift God has given you now. And living in the now is important. Don’t worry about tomorrow for today has enough worries of its own.” She smiled at me. I wasn’t sure what to do with this advice, but filed it away for later. We chatted some more and then prayed: for Pastor Charlie and for Anton and for Jasmine … and for me: that I would know how to approach this situation. I felt much better when we finished. What a joy it was to meet with such mature Christians! I felt supremely blessed by those whom God had put in my life.
Following that conversation, I received a call from a prospective client who was looking for a good photographer for a wedding a couple weeks hence. They’d gotten my name from a friend of a friend, whose child’s birthday party I’d done sometime earlier, and they wanted me as their “principal photographer” for the big event. I agreed to meet with the wedding planner the following day, only to find out that these were people with money coming out their ears and that I would be one of three people doing stills along with a very professional crew doing the motion pictures. I decided at that point that I would need an assistant for this job, especially if I was supposed to take the big set pieces. But who could I ask? I pondered that as I left the meeting, turning it into a prayer as my mentors had suggested.