blog picMy father will be 89 this year. I have made a commitment to see him every year until the Lord calls him home. The reason for that is rather simple — I feel that only now am I really getting to know my dad.

I knew my dad as a pastor. He always had people surrounding him, hanging on his every word, seeking a blessing or giving praise.

I knew my dad as a student. He was constantly surrounding himself with books, he never failed to have a Bic pen in hand, and he filled hundreds of pages with notes in old fashioned notebooks. My siblings joke about us fighting over who will inherit his notebooks.

I knew my dad as a husband. He was quiet but always supportive of my mom. Publicly, they rarely disagreed. I saw them being playful with each other but also being extremely serious when the subject was helping people in need.

I knew my dad as a sort of super human. I never saw my dad cry. I never heard him raise his voice. He never appeared to be in a hurry and he always had time for everyone. And one more thing: my dad didn’t give any indication that he needed any help from anyone no matter what the task was.

I knew my dad as a great communicator. For a guy with only a 5th grade formal education, he certainly climbed very high on the ladder of academia. Not only was he articulate, his words were persuasive. He was a specialist in drawing deep lessons from every-day stuff. My dad naturally drew crowds without even being aware that he had this power.

But I didn’t know my dad as a playmate in a game of UNO. I don’t remember that we ever played any games together. I guess we were too busy trying to survive.

I didn’t know my dad as a collaborator in a project fixing something around the house. The few times I asked him if I could help, I remember hearing a firm “no.”

I didn’t know my dad as a hugger. It was not until my freshman year in college, after I had been away from home for a while, that I remember getting a hug from my dad, one of those side hugs that those unaccustomed to touch give while praying to God that no one is watching.

I didn’t know my dad as a coach. My mom did all the teaching, admonishing and disciplining in our home. I remember hearing my dad at times say things like, “You should get him/her to do this or that.” My mom may have had that delegated to her, or maybe she just stepped in, knowing my dad wasn’t going to do it. Our family was not unlike many others today where the women take the lead instructing the children in the ways of the Lord and I’m thankful to God that my mom was equal to the task. Without her investment in our lives we wouldn’t be where we are today.

I did get spanked by my dad once. He came after me with a belt and I jumped over a fence, not before he launched the belt toward my stomach, leaving a bloody spot. Then he ran after me in the yard but I was a lot faster than he so I escaped a full punishment. Kind of. Because it rained hard that evening and I was outside for a long time until my mom finally had mercy on me and called me in to shower and have supper. I am sure I deserved the discipline, even if I can’t remember today what the whole ordeal was about.

As I moved away from my home after college, I observed from a distance how my dad was relating to my younger siblings, especially my youngest sister, who was born the year I started college. Slowly, she softened my dad’s heart and my dad became a different person.

And it is this person I am getting to know now in my older years. My dad, the conversationalist; My dad, the encourager; My dad, the man who raises his voice sometimes; My dad, who marches to his own beat; My dad, a dad in the truest sense of the word. And it is that man that is making me undertake a yearly pilgrimage to the equator in Northern Brazil to try to make up for some lost time. No worries, though, we will have plenty of time in heaven, because of all the traits of my dad I didn’t get to know, Dad, the servant of God, imperfect but saved by grace, will never cease to impact me.

“Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.” (Luke 6:40).

Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

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