I don’t think of my father as old although he will be 89 on Saturday. The way I see him is still as the strong daddy who could out-stride me any day, physically and intellectually. In fact one of the few times I tried to take his evening walk with him I could hardly keep up. At over 6 feet, he still stands tall.
And not just physically in my mind. He is still my spiritual and mental giant. When I hear him lead a lesson at church or share a sermon from the pulpit, I am still a bit in awe of him. And truth be told, I can’t keep up with him in that realm, either. He can out-stride me any day in Bible class, too.
I know others still see him as something special too, because even years after leaving a church congregation or even “retiring” (pastors really never do that, though), people will still call him “my pastor.”
I’m fortunate because I also get to call him my daddy.
I know age has given him some challenges with eyesight and hearing, and we are all holding our breath over whether or not he will get to renew his driver’s license (I renewed mine on line but after age 65 you can’t do that apparently.)
But his mind can still run circles around folks half his age, and in spite of poor eyesight, he reads all the time. He retains the information he reads, too, something my brain doesn’t seem to want to do as much anymore. He can recount a story, a joke, a fact and even a trivial tidbit.
There’s something very comforting in hearing my father’s voice, even if he’s just talking about the weather or the featured dog on the front page of his daily newspaper. When I hear his voice in the pulpit, I know it is not just him talking. That’s because many years ago when he was a teenager he surrendered himself to Someone greater than he, someone who out-strides him but never is too far ahead to steady him if he starts to falter.
That is the source of his spiritual strength. That is how he can still minister to so many others. That is why his voice can bring such comfort to the rest of us. That is why his words have meaning and power, strength and assurance.
He’s still listening, too.