Captain Lee goes to church on Sunday morning ... but not the kind of church most people in the United States think of ...
To get totally caught up on The Posture of Innocence, here are the prologue, day 1, day 2, day 3, day 3.5, day 4, day 4.5, day 5, day 5.5, day 6, day 7, day 7.5, day 8, day 9, day 9.5, day 10, day 10.5, day 11, day 11.5, day 12, day 12.5, day 13, day 13.5, day 14, day 15, day 16, day 16.5, day 17, day 18, day 19, day 19.5, day 20, day 20.5, day 21, day 22, day 22.5, day 23, day 23.5, day 24, day 24.5, day 25, day 25.5, day 26, day 26.5, day 27, day 27.5, day 28, day 28.5, day 29, day 29.5, day 30, day 30.5, day 31, day 31.5, day 32, day 32.5, day 33, day 33.5, day 34, day 34.5, day 35, day 35.5, day 36, day 36.5, day 37, day 37.5, and day 38!
Captain Lee worshiped with the Good Neighbors Fellowship in Tinyville with Captain Hamilton and his family on that Sunday. Captain and Mrs. Hamilton were two of the eleven founders of the fellowship. The eleven had founded the fellowship after the fall of Roadside Baptist Church, a fall precipitated by the church giving aid and quarter to those dressing in white robes for their burning of the Gilligan House. So many members had been involved, and thus killed or jailed, that the church had collapsed financially afterward.
Captain Hamilton had been a regular attender with his family at Roadside before it fell, but even before that, he had been making extra Sunday breakfast for the children roundabout, poor children of every race in the area. Several of his neighbors had been doing this as well, and that had drawn them into friendship and fellowship – so, when Roadside fell, they had decided to keep feeding the children and invite their parents to come – thus, Tinyville had its first interracial fellowship with founders and elders of Black, White, Latino, and Native heritage, all rejoicing in Christ, going from house to house, and worshiping several times a week as time permitted.
In this fellowship, Captain Hamilton found healing from the deep wounds Roadside and its predecessor, Tinyville Baptist Church, had laid upon his heart … and, at first, Captain Lee, who preferred private worship outdoors and rarely went to church on Sundays, had come down to Tinyville just to give support to his cousin. Yet he had found himself finding healing in the fellowship … minus the rituals that he detested, just study of the Word, good singing, fervent prayer, and a meeting of one another's needs and those of the community around them.
On this Sunday, Elder Gonzaga spoke of the necessity for Christians to be transformed by the renewal of their minds so that they might know and do the will of God, from Romans 12 … and that the renewing of the mind through appropriating all that the Christian has in Christ would reveal what to do among fellow Christians and in every aspect of life in society, from business through having peace with all men so far as self-defense was not required.
Captain Lee was awestruck … no message could have fit better to his circumstances. The whole thought that the Lord knew his deepest need, to be reminded of exactly how he as a Christian would find his healing and be able to think and feel and act according to God's will in every circumstance even though his work on his PTSD and closing the doors on his past was not complete, overwhelmed him. Although he knew it, such occasions also reminded him: he was not alone, and never had been. God cared enough to arrange his weekends so that he would hear what he needed to hear, in the presence of the people that he needed to be with, before his going back to professional duties in which he again would have the lives of people in his hands, at a critical moment. The realization of the power, and the love and grace and mercy of the God he served, toward him, was completely overwhelming.
“Thank You, Lord … thank You … if I had 10,000 tongues it would not be enough to give You the praise for the love, the grace, the mercy, the patience … the worship, for You are all powerful, in control, and moving all things to the good of Your chosen, as You said You would … trustworthy, holy, mighty, faithful God … thank You … thank You!”
Captain and Mrs. Hamilton looked over, with tears in their own eyes, as their cousin had gone into private worship after the official closing prayer. He was not loud at that moment, still being both conscious of other people meeting and greeting, but it would only be a little while before he went out in Creation, as he was known to do, where he would allow his emotions to run their course. Or not; as the house emptied out for dinner on the yard, Captain Lee's voice began to rise …
“Harry is having his breakthrough before our eyes,” Mrs. Hamilton said to her husband Captain Hamilton.
“Perhaps we needed to see it, just to know that God is going to do this thing we've been asking for, all these years,” Captain Hamilton said. “I should give you some reference though; this is how it was in the field.”
“In the field, with our lives and our brothers' lives in danger every day, and with him bearing the burden of command for some of those years, this is how it was for a lot of us when we worshiped in the field. There was just no time for pretense – we sang hard and we prayed hard and we worshiped hard, because there was nothing else to do. To a certain extent, Harry's job in Big Loft has reproduced similar conditions – but still, this is more than that. Harry is on the cusp of a lot of decisions that are going to affect the rest of his life and a whole bunch of other people. Elder Gonzaga didn't know that. The Spirit of God knows.”
“You said that last night,” Mrs. Hamilton said.
“Yes, Aggie – and what we can't do for Harry, God is doing right now.”
Captain Lee had started pacing, in tears, as he worshiped – physically he could not stay still any longer as he remembered all the ways the Lord had led him and kept him, and the Spirit affirmed that He wasn't going to ever stop leading and keeping.
“Do this for me, Aggie,” Captain Hamilton said. “Harry is probably going to miss the start of dinner, so put a plate together for him a little later – but for right now, please juice about three lemons and put the juice in the box. Harry is about to be overdue to take his blood pressure medicine – I think he'll be all right, but just in case, a stopgap measure might be necessary.”
Captain Hamilton went on to his dinner on the yard with his neighbors, periodically checking on his cousin … an hour passed, and two hours, and Captain Lee still had not settled down. However, that bowl of oatmeal and two eggs Captain Lee had eaten had been completely burned off, to say nothing of the liquid expended – two hours of high-energy worship was about the equivalent of high-energy aerobics. Captain Lee was in excellent condition, but it was a very hot day, the energy expenditure had been immense, and he was overdue taking his medicine.
Captain Hamilton went and made strong lemonade – the juice of those three lemons, generous honey, cool water – and brought it to his cousin, who was now reciting his way through his favorite psalms, and was reaching a new emotional high point in Psalm 116 – “I will walk before the Lord in the land of living … precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints ...” It occurred to Captain Hamilton that this was Captain Lee again coming to terms with the deaths of his wife and son, and with him living on with the Lord on earth.
“Which means you need to drink this lemonade and take your medicine,” Captain Hamilton said softly to his cousin before he addressed himself higher. “Lord, I hate to disturb y'all, but you know Harry has a mortal body and he's got to take his medicine. I know You've got him, and he is safe, and one of the ways You keep us safe is to have us do what You have given us to do for our bodies.”
When it happened it happened quickly: Captain Lee wobbled and caught himself wobbling, and stopped cold in his tracks. Captain Hamilton stepped right up with the lemonade, and Captain Lee drank half of it, took out his blood pressure pill, and drank it down with the rest of the lemonade.
“This is a chair,” Captain Hamilton said. “Perhaps you should enjoy this gift of God, Harry.”
“I lost track of time, Ironwood – I was gone,” Captain Lee said as his cousin eased him into a chair. “When God makes His power and His love known … at home, sometimes, I have moments like that as I am studying in the Word and the Spirit just ministers to me … He knows our needs and He is so gracious, so loving, so rich in His provision … I had to give Him His due, Ironwood, I just couldn't hold it back...”
“Of course not,” Captain Hamilton said. “Nor were you supposed to. You know, Elder Gonzaga made a copy of his sermon for you to have, but he didn't want to disturb you.”
Captain Lee shot up, went and showered and changed, and then went right out onto the yard to thank Elder Gonzaga. He ended up sitting with the Gonzagas for the rest of dinner (they were having dessert, but Captain Lee caught up quickly), and the fellowship and the praise went on for the rest of the afternoon.
Finally, as the shadows grew long, the fellowship broke up, and it was time for everyone not named Hamilton to head home. Captain Lee bid his cousins goodbye until Monday – veterans' support group on Monday in Roanoke would be the next time he would see Captain and Mrs. Hamilton – and drove home to Big Loft. All the way, he continued his private worship, and all the way up the four flights of stairs to his apartment, and into room 413 … and although he did not know it at that time, his arrival caused his neighbor in room 313 -- Mrs. Thornton -- to start thanking and praising God too.