The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
Zephaniah 3:17 New American Standard Bible
Her visit to the base was going to be short.
"Post," she reminded herself.
Her son had told her again just that morning - "Base is Air Force, Post is Army."
She pushed the smile down. He was being such a show off. All those acronyms and specialty words. Military words. Like a code; he was in a secret-code brotherhood. This time, the smile stayed for a second. Imagine, her big, old football-hero, should-have-been-in-college, got-the-girlfriend-pregnant son, was graduating from his AIT school - Advanced Individual Training. He'd scored pretty well on the test thingy the Army had given, and now he was graduating. Then he was moving.
Now, he wanted her to go to chapel with him. With them. He'd married the girlfriend...she was as big as a house, due any day now. Church? They hadn't gone as a family when her son was at home. Sure, she believed in God and all... But church had always just succeeded in interfering with their weekends. And the endless sermons on giving and tithing, fire and brimstone....Ugh! Sometimes the music was ok, though. Well, she figured it was the least she could do before he left for his first duty station.
He said she didn't need to dress up. The chapel on post was pretty casual.
"Ok", she thought, stepping into her boots, "here goes."
So now she was sitting in the pews. She had been surprised at the amount of cars in the parking lot - surprised by the size of the building. Chapel? This was a full-grown church. Her son had proudly explained about the Spiritual Fitness Complex - a craft building, a gym, classrooms, kitchen, and last but not least, the sanctuary.
"Of course, we share it with the Catholics," he said, his eyes twinkling.
She looked around. There were lots of people. Young, mostly. Lots of families with kids. There were a few older people - dressed up. The young ones - she guessed they were soldiers - some tattoos, short hair, high and tight, she remembered - shaking her head - all those code words... The young ones were mostly in t-shirts with rock bands emblazoned. There were a couple of pews with soldiers in uniform. Women, too - not just men. Warriors. The old-fashioned word came to her mind. Yes, they were trained in warfare. Warriors. Her son and his wife fit right into the crowd. He wasn't even the biggest guy there, with his football muscles and height.
The praise band was pretty good. The big screens were down and the words and pictures were marching along. She was standing with everyone, singing. The lights were dimmed. It was such a new place; she kept noticing goofy details. A typo on the screen -
"Really," she thought, "we can't use spellcheck.."
She looked at her son to see if he'd noticed. No, he was standing with arms stretched up and tears. Tears. Streaming down his face. She looked farther - the soldiers in uniform, the tattoos, - they were standing with faces upturned, palms raised. It was like a brotherhood.
"My chains are gone. I've been set free. My God, My Savior, has ransomed me... "
Now she was listening to the words. To the meaning.
"And like a flood, His mercy rains. Unending love, amazing grace."
Imagine that, she thought. Imagine unending love. Her divorce had been nasty; her ex-husband had done everything in his power to discredit and break her. But she had managed. Unending love - what a comfort that would be. And grace...she had not always been perfect. Understatement. She knew chains.
"But God who called me here below, will be forever mine..."
The music had ended. She heard the rustling of the congregation, sitting, adjusting. She could feel their attention, their focus. The message was about God's love - in the midst of battle, overseas, on post - about God's everlasting, ever-present love. There was something about seeing those tough-looking, muscles-showing, tattooed kids worship, that had pulled her into this service. Drawn her next to this brotherhood - like she could look in, but couldn't quite join. It was something to see those big men pray. Humbling.
More music. She looked again at her son, with new eyes. He was the believer. Not her. She looked at her daughter-in-law. A believer. Joy apparent on her face. She had heard about the Spirit being present in a service. Now she had seen it. She wanted that. She wanted that joy; she wanted that grace; she wanted that unending love.
He smiled down at her. They walked together to the altar rail. Wouldn't you know it would be a warrior - her soldier - her son - leading her to peace...
Thank you, God, for our soldiers. Our warriors. Keep them and their families safe.
Linking with Beth at Three-Word Wednesday
Linking with Beth at Three-Word Wednesday