I want to thank you for being the example for me that you were. You were a loving husband, a wonderful father, a proud grandfather, and a devoted servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Friday morning it was clear that you were soon to leave us for that long-anticipated journey called “eternity with God”. You challenged me that morning, and not only me, but also Chip, and then my son, Wes Jr. You knew you were dying, and you were ready to go. You called all the shots that day – your last day. You made all the decisions, and you departed this life with dignity, love, and devotion.
Friday was 40 days since you had last been at home. You had entered the hospital on Father’s Day, June 21st. That was also the Lord’s Day. It was also your brother Kenneth’s birthday. 40 days… you fought, you struggled, you led, you followed, you cried, you laughed… you lived and loved throughout those final 40 days. You made sure that Chip and I would take care of mom. You told us you were proud of us. You told us how much you thanked God for your daughters-in-law, Jully and Ginna. You told us how much you loved your grandchildren, Morgan, Wes Jr, and Kaity.
During those final weeks you constantly told us, and anyone who would listen, that you wanted to honor the Lord Jesus Christ no matter what happened. Dad, you did just that. You finished strong. Just as Caleb was described no less than six times in the Old Testament as one who “wholly followed the Lord”, you too wholly followed the Lord to your final breath. As Caleb claimed the promises of God at age 85, promises that the Lord had given him 45 years prior, you too claimed the promises of God to the end of your life. You desired to finish strong, and with the Lord’s strength, you did just that.
Mark chapter 4 recounts the story where the Lord Jesus went with the disciples in the boat to other side of the lake. That story reminds us during the sudden storms of life when all hope is gone, that is when God’s glory is on display. During those 40 days, day 19 was the day in which all hope was lost. There was nothing that man could do. You were not expected to live more than 3 or 4 days, perhaps a week or so beyond then. And yet somehow, you wound up going to a rehab center after 33 days at the hospital. The last two weeks we had with you was a miraculous gift from God. It was far greater than any best-case scenario we were given on July 10. And yet, we had 21 more days with you.
It was a gift from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. From the God of Daniel. And the God of Shadrach, Meshack, and Abed-nego. The God of Moses, and Adam, and Paul. The God of Joshua and Caleb. The God of Frank Patterson. The God of Wes Patterson.
I told you Friday morning that you were just like Caleb. And I thanked you for being that kind of father to me, that kind of grandfather to my son, that kind of husband to my mother, that kind of servant to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
You never wanted to be in the light. You wanted to point others to the light, the one true light – the Lord Jesus Christ. He is that light, and you reflected that light of God on everyone around you. Thank you for honoring our Saviour in this way. Thank you for teaching me to look to the Lord and not to man. Man will fail us, and we will fail our fellow man. But Christ will never fail us nor forsake us.
You lived what you preached. You taught me that words never matter unless your life backs them up. You lived your faith. You claimed the promises of God throughout your life. You have taught so many brothers and sisters in the Lord to study the Scriptures and to follow Christ and to step up and do the same to others. You lived the Paul and Timothy principle – to teach others how to go and train others to teach. It was never about you, but always about the Lord Jesus Christ.
40 years ago you and mom made your first trip to a foreign country in service to the Lord. Seven weeks in Brazil, summer of 1975. The subsequent impact you have had on students of the Word reaches so far that we can’t even begin to fathom. Of course, it was never your ability. It was your availability. You were available to be used by the Lord. Brazil, Bangladesh (for 14 years) , Colombia, at least two trips to Myanmar (formerly Burma), at least two trips to Ukraine, three times to India, and the last trip was to northern Iraq in 2008 during a war, at age 67. And we cannot forget the North Carolina communities of Winston-Salem, King, and Lexington.
You have these verses bookmarked and underlined in your Bible. Job 19:25-27 says, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”
Dad, your yearning has been transformed to reality! And I could not be any happier for you than I am at this time. Yes, I miss you greatly. But I know that I will see you again one day. And as you taught me throughout my entire life, I know the first one I shall see in that coming day will be the Lord Jesus Christ.
Everything in Scripture points to Christ. Thank you, Dad, for living your life with the same objective. I am so thrilled for you, Dad. I’ll see you soon!!!
With all my love,
Your son Wes
(August 3, 2015 at Salem Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC, read by Nat Thompson)