By Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
Someone who had been blessed by our church once gave me the gift of a custom-made, hand-tailored suit as a way of expressing appreciation. I wondered if the person was subtly suggesting that my wardrobe needed help or simply knew this was an indulgence that I would not splurge on.
I accepted graciously and made an appointment at the men’s shop, a discreetly hidden little storefront in a gentriﬁed area near downtown, and had no idea what to expect.
Inside the shop I felt as if I had stepped back in time, returning to the turn of the twentieth century, when every gentleman owned at least one ﬁne suit, and often only one suit, for weddings, funerals and special occasions.
The place had oak paneling and high ceilings, a faded Turkish rug gracing the hardwood ﬂoor, and built-in shelves covering an entire wall with bolt after bolt of fabric stacked like giant books. The sartorial little shop even smelled manly and old-fashioned with the blended scent of bay rum, leather and cedar.
Based on the surroundings, I expected the tailor to be a silver-haired gentleman in a three-piece suit with a pocket watch and British accent.
Instead, a young Latino man emerged from the back room wearing jeans, suede kicks, earbuds and what appeared to be a lab coat with lots of pockets.
“Hola!” he said with a broad smile. “You must be Pastor Sam. A pleasure to meet you!”
My new friend introduced himself as Emilio. He then asked me to describe the kind of suit I would like, both in terms of what I envisioned and the purposes it would serve for various occasions. When I told him I had not really thought about it, he made it clear that I was going to start thinking about it very carefully.
Did I want a classic, more traditional suit, like something I could wear to the White House?
Or maybe something a little hipper and more stylish for when I took my wife out for a nice dinner?
Did I prefer a dark, neutral color or something fresher and less predictable?
Solid, striped, plaid?
Would I be traveling in it and need something synthetic and less prone to wrinkling?
Or would this be for special occasions only, which would allow for natural wool blends?
My expert guide then proceeded to explain the process and the multitude of choices available and decisions to be made for my new suit. While I am a strong believer in the adage that God is in the details, I had no idea just how many holy details go into making a man’s jacket and pair of pants.
Eva had offered to accompany me, but aligning our schedules proved challenging, so I thanked her and said, “How hard can it be, right?”
Emilio proved a godsend.
He guided me toward an Italian blended wool fabric, navy with subtle lighter blue pinstripes. From there, he showed me various ﬁnished suits and let me point to the details I wanted for my own. Pockets, lapels, cuffs, buttons, buttonholes—I even got to choose the fabric for the lining!
With the apprentice helping, Emilio then took my measurements and told me my new suit would be ready in four to six weeks. While I thought the process that afternoon had taken a long time, I realized that that was nothing compared to the actual cutting, assembling and sewing the two matching garments.
Ordering online usually promises quick gratiﬁcation with two-day delivery, but a suit made just for me apparently required almost two months.
Just when I had almost forgotten about my suit, Emilio called to inform me it was ready. As excited as a kid on Christmas morning, I could not wait to see the ﬁnished product—and I was not disappointed.
My new suit proved as comfortable as my favorite jeans and sweatshirt. Emilio and his staff marveled at their creation. It ﬁt me perfectly.
All those details Emilio had pressed me to choose paid off: It was neither too loose nor too tight; neither too stiff nor too soft. I could not believe how much better these garments ﬁt than what I was used to wearing.
Needless to say, I feel a surge of conﬁdence wearing this suit that I have never experienced with my usual off-the-rack brands. Which is only natural, after all, because this suit was made for me and me alone.
There is not another one like it in the world.
While I remain grateful for the generous gift from my benefactor, I share this experience with you to make this point: God’s mantle of promotion for your life requires time in order to give you a perfect ﬁt, but it is more than worth the wait.
This Thanksgiving, let’s express gratitude to God as the ultimate benefactor of blessings, and his gifts that are so clearly tailor-made for our lives.
Excerpt from Persevere with Power by Samuel Rodriguez provided by Chosen Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copyright 2021. Used by permission.