A Tribute for my Father - a Great Leader a Greater Dad
By Victoria Knight Eachus
I miss my Dad. June 16, 2007 my father, Cecil B. Knight went home to Heaven. The next day was Father’s Day. To me it was fitting that the Lord allowed Dad to go then. Of course we always celebrated Father’s Day before but now it seems to be set apart as not only a special day but a sacred day. Because it falls on or close to Dad’s birthday into heaven, Father’s Day now has a depth of meaning beyond Hallmark wishes and a gift card to Home Depot.
I miss my Dad. You may have known him. He was a great leader in our church. He was one of the last great Churchmen. Evangelist, Pastor, National Youth Leader, State Overseer, General Overseer, Educator, Seminary President. 23consecutive years serving on the Executive Council, 14 years on the Executive Committee, 13 years as President of the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Church of God School of Theology back in the day). Oh my, the long list of accolades I could give. But I am compelled to give tribute to him as Dad…. His favorite title and the highest office he held was that of husband and father and grandfather…Dad and Papa.
I miss my Dad. But I take such delight in hearing people share how he touched their lives. So often I encounter people literally from around the world that have a story about my Dad and how the Lord used him to make a significant difference in their lives. I then love to tell them about what a remarkable Dad and Papa he was too. I would often smile when I would see the Conference Table of the Seminary; reserved for the Board of Directors and very important meetings. To us it was where grandchildren would crawl around hiding, waiting for their Papa to turn the lights out and try to scare them. To many the Executive Council room was an awesome place where global decisions were made…..well to his grandchildren is an awesome place for hide and seek and connecting with a man who instilled in them the confidence to change the globe themselves.
I miss my Dad. One of His favorite scriptures was 3John1:4, especially when communicated in the context of his family….”I have no greater joy that to hear my children walk in the Truth”. In his last weeks of life I was privileged to spend most days with him. During these precious priceless days he shared with me that his most significant achievement was teaching us the Doctrine of the Priesthood of the Family.
Oh you won’t find much about it in a book or a thesis or dissertation or even a video series. I’ve looked. But my Dad lived it out every day with each of us. He lived it out around the dinner table; he lived it out in the car taking his grand sons and great grandson to school every day. He lived it out during shopping sprees at JC Penney’s and family vacations in Panama City. He lived it out at ball games and birthday parties and graduations and at church and at home. He was the unconditional love of Christ to us every day.
I miss my Dad. I miss my phone ringing and hearing him say, “I’m at Cooke’s. Have the kids had vegetables today? Do need anything from the store?” I miss unlocking my front door before 7am every morning for his visit. Without fail every morning before the sun he would spend time with Dewayne, my brother. Following this he would stop by my house to help our family begin our day aware of and saturated with God’s love.
I miss the crazy laugh he laughed with the grandchildren. I miss the duck sound he could make with his throat. I miss seeing him give the Winston Churchill victory sign (that is a peace sign for you too young to recall the Winston Churchill victory sign). I miss the strength of his hands. I miss having him at Sunday lunch. I miss his wisdom. I miss his prayers. I miss his time. I miss the sound of his voice and the smell of his cologne and the shuffle of his step and the love in his eyes.
I miss seeing how many times he’ll go to Publix in Panama City (each day)
I miss hot foot (it’s a game probably only the Knight family could understand)
I miss hearing the rustling of grocery bags as he came into my house; bags full of grape juice, chicken Vienna sausages, and a plethora of chips.
I miss coming home and discovering he had been there to sneak a Red Bull in my fridge – one of my indulgences with four small children. Can you imagine Cecil Knight even buying a Red Bull at the Conoco?
I miss the excitement he had when he knew we would all be around the dinner table. It was palpable. It was joy and delight and peace all rolled up into one energetic ball. He expressed it by frying more okra than you can imagine!
I miss the pride and joy in his eyes when he would listen and watch us there, eating his okra and sharing our lives.
I miss his stories
I miss watching him with my children.
I miss a thousand other things.
I miss my Dad. He knew my flaws and failures and secret struggles yet he constantly encouraged me in my strengths, always pointing me toward Christ, always loving me unconditionally. He accepted me, yet always challenged me to a higher standard and a deeper walk with God. No matter what wrong choice I made, no matter what the failure or disappointment, he stood beside me. If he wasn’t standing beside me, then he was out in front protecting me or making a way for me. If we wasn’t beside me or in front of me, then he was holding me, comforting me. You know, just like Abba Father does. No matter what I faced, no matter the consequence, or shame, or price to be paid, Dad walked the road with me.
Dad loved the Braves. He watched them faithfully, win or lose. I’d love to hear him get so disgusted with them. He’d moan and groan about their losses. He’d call his baby sister Annie, who loved the Braves too and ask her if she was watching. No matter how bad the loss, he’d be watching the next game. He liked their coach Bobby Cox. Bobby Cox never let a player get questioned or even thrown out of a game ALONE. If one of his players questioned. Mistreated, or given a bad call here comes Bobby….defending the player to the point of getting thrown out. That’s my Dad. If one of his children was going to get thrown out, knocked down, pushed away, or face some other difficult situation, then he is going to go through it with us, never to let us walk it alone. Never defending our wrong or our sin, but ferociously defending the son or the daughter.
May I challenge you fathers to live out the doctrine of the priesthood of the family. Live it out with time and prayer and integrity and communication and love and laughter and God’s word. And you too will be able to declare “I have no greater joy that to hear my children walk in the Truth”.
Yes I miss my Dad. But thanks to his love and instruction, I can embrace the Love of my Heavenly Father, who is the God of all Comfort. How great is His Love! My prayer this Father’s Day is the same prayer my Dad prayed in the last weeks of his life. “I pray for renewal and revival in my family” Won’t you make it your prayer too.
This article is an adaptation and from a larger body of writings about life as a Pentecostal preacher’s kid.
Victoria Knight Eachus and her husband Michael live in Cleveland, Tennessee with their four children Caleb, Seth, Elizabeth, and Miriam.
The family worships at the North Cleveland Church of God
Victoria currently works at Lee University in the Office of Church Relations
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