My dad was hit and killed this week while bicycling near his home. My husband wrote the following beautiful tribute to my dad’s beautiful life.
A Legacy of Love
In the How to Manage Your Money Bible study by the late Larry Burkett, while discussing wealth and stewardship, Larry noted that, once we leave this world, what we will be in eternity is decided forever. And the only things that will matter are the things we did in the name of Jesus. So often in his sermons, teachings, counseling sessions, or simply everyday conversations, my beloved father-in-law, David Fitzpatrick, would urge us to say the things that Jesus said, and do the things that Jesus did. Jesus was his standard–always.
David didn’t simply tell others to do and say such things, he modeled this behavior with his own life. Whether giving away grocery bags full of items that couldn’t be purchased with food stamps (soaps, toilet paper, toothpaste, and the like) at one of the Gainesville area housing projects (a service he performed for well over a decade), preparing and delivering sermons, counseling young couples looking to marry, helping to plant churches in South America, supporting Choices Pregnancy Care Center, offering prayer to strangers in public places, being overly generous to those who waited his table in restaurants, keeping his grandchildren while their parents worked or ran errands, pouring life and truth into the middle school students that he taught, and on, and on, and on, David was very busy being the hands and feet of Jesus.
|“Papa” with 3 of his 4 children (along with their spouses) and 10 of his 11 grandchildren this past Christmas.|
As a result of such a walk, David’s life was rich and full of joy. I almost never saw him angry. (Something with which I sometimes struggle. Thus, I will continue to look to his life as a reminder of how I can do better as a husband and father.) He was certainly one of the kindest and most generous men that I’ve ever met. (I’m nearly 46 years old–and I’ve been married to his oldest daughter Michelle for over 17 years now–and he still insisted on getting me a birthday present every year, while also taking my whole family out to dinner on each of our birthdays!)
David and Margie went to their grandchildren’s birthday parties, baseball games, karate tournaments (he and Margie traveled to Ellijay this past weekend to watch Caleb, Jesse, and Caroline compete in karate), piano recitals, horse shows, and the like. However, after his relationship with his creator and Savior, David was most devoted to his wife Margie. This devotion was clear to all of us who knew him best. This is perhaps his greatest witness.
With such devotion, David has made an eternal impact on his children and grandchildren that we will remember for the rest of our lives. I’ve often said that, after our relationship with our Creator, the most important relationship in the universe is that between a husband and wife. David’s love for Margie was as precious and proper as any marriage I’ve ever known. (As an aside: Leading up to the legal arguments on marriage made before the U.S. Supreme Court, and answering Ted Cruz’s challenge to preach and teach on marriage, the last two Sundays in April of this year, David’s sermons were on God’s plan for marriage. He spoke the truth well.)
Additionally, David LOVED to “get lost” in musical worship. He craved it. It was a point of emphasis while he was a pastor on this earth. However, he knew well that a life of worship went far beyond the songs we sing on Sunday morning.
This life of worship would certainly extend to showing love and forgiveness to the man that struck and killed David as he rode his bike near Braselton. This man must answer to the law, but in no way would David have us wallow in hate or anger in this tragedy. In fact, David would have us pray that God would reach down into Mr. Bowers’ life and bring hope and healing.
Thank you, Papa, for a life full of love. I, and many others have reaped much, and will continue to do so, from all of the love that you’ve sown. This is only goodbye for now. All who know Jesus will see you again. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!!!
Copyright 2015, Trevor Grant Thomas At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason. www.trevorgrantthomas.com Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World firstname.lastname@example.org