My dad hardly ever wore a suit.
Weddings and funerals marked those occasional events that would send him hunting through his wardrobe for a suitable tie. Ties and socks were favoured Christmas presents for dad so he had lots of those to chose from. But there was only one suit and one of two blue shirts to which he needed to worry about matching them.
Every Sunday morning he would put on the dark blue, narrow pin stripe with the three- button vest and join all the rest of the nattily dressed blue-collar workers who made up the bulk of our congregation.
There was one other occasion when dad would dress up. Once every few months, on a weeknight after work, he would take a bath, put on his suit and head out the door. In the beginning, I used to ask him where he was going because bathing was usually reserved for Saturday night and the suit normally only appeared on Sunday morning. Later, long after I knew the answer to my question, I’d still ask it just for fun.
“Where are you going, Dad?”
He’d give me a slightly mischievous smile, and say:
“I’m going to see my girlfriend.”
The answer was always the same, even after I found out from my mother where he was actually going. It was the habit of a lifetime for dad to walk down to the local hall to donate blood as often as he could: a habit he continued until someone decided he was too old, and needed all the blood he had for himself.
He went to the blood donor clinic in a suit for the same reason he went to church in a suit — it was something special that merited his best foot forward.
The suit didn’t change the quality of my father’s blood. Dad knew that his was no more valuable to the nurse who collected it than the blood donated by the person who appeared at the clinic in his work clothes.
But to dad, the act of giving blood was special, and he found a way to let the world know, and his daughter in particular, that it wasn’t just an ordinary occurrence.
God isn’t any more impressed with the worship, or service, of a man in a suit or a woman dressed in her finest, than He is with a poorest soul in the shabbiest clothing that Goodwill can provide. Paul tells us in Romans two, verse eleven that: “… God does not show favoritism.” James reminds us in chapter two, verse one that there should be no such distinctions in the church: “ … as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.” We all come before Him naked, hiding nothing: our “blood” is all the same colour, our lives an open book before His all-seeing eyes.
I think dad wore a suit to church not simply because his generation would never have considered doing otherwise. His regular trip to the clinic to see his “girlfriend” was my clue to his attitude toward God. The suit declared that this event, this act, was something special. It was for my father, a man of few words, a statement declaring the esteem with which he held his God and the value he placed on his small act of service for the benefit of others.
Approaching Almighty God is an act that should not be taken lightly. It is not just another event in our weekly calendar of activities. It’s special, and the Lord merits that we declare in every way possible just how extraordinary coming into His presence is to us. One day, with all the saints from all the ages, we will fall on our faces and worship Him because “Worthy is the Lamb, who is slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise” (Revelation 5:12).*
We buried my dad in that same suit. I think he would have been happy to know that though he wasn’t going to carry those old rags with him into God’s presence, we had taken him to church one last time dressed as he would have dressed himself — just because it was special.
*All Scriptures are from the New International Version
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