A Tribute to Jay Williams | “He Loved Jesus”

Jay Williams

(July 11, 1980 – June 30, 2012)

A Tragic End

Around 4:45 pm this afternoon Jay Williams died from injuries suffered from falling off a roof while at work, eleven days shy of his thirty-second birthday. That may have been the cause of my friend’s death. But, that will never be what I remember most about him.

It is during events like this that we are confronted with some of the most difficult questions of faith. We are consumed with our sorrow and pain. We are riddled with questions that may never be answered. We are shocked into the unchanging reality that the one who died, we will not see again… this side of eternity. And here in lies the hope of the disciple of Jesus. We do not mourn like those who have no hope, Paul told the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

God never promised that our lives on earth would be long and filled with every pleasure we could fill it with. What he promised was that we would never have to go through anything by ourselves. Taking advantage of all of the wonders and opportunities of life will never be a sin. We just can not expect those things to fill our hearts and satisfy out deepest longings. I never knew what that meant until I met Jay Williams. He taught me how to see the good in every situation and how to fill as many moments as possible with all that you have to offer.

I was praying for a different outcome. I wanted to see Jay again. I want Jay to be at the Chrysalis Journey Weekend in five weeks talking about serving God and helping others see their own potential. That’s what I want, but that is not the truth. Jay has walked THROUGH death’s door. That is what death is. It is a door we have to go through because Jesus has not come back and shut it for good. And, until Jesus comes back and makes everything right again we will have to deal with tragedies and losses like this.

But, do you know what I hate more than the fact that I will not see Jay again until I die or Jesus comes back? I hate the crazy things that people will say to try and make his family feel better. I want to clear some things up right here.

  • God did not need another angel. He has all the angels he needs.
  • It was not Jay’s time. Jay had an accident because that is what happens in a fallen world, and that accident cost him his life.
  • Jay is not looking over us. Jay is looking into the eyes of his Savior and is enjoying the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to him. Jay is better than he has ever been.
  • Jay would not choose to come back. This is the hardest of all. If Jay would choose anything, it would be for all of us who love him to be with him, where he is with Jesus.

I do not say any of this to hurt, but to remind us all of what, I believe, Jay would want us to remember. Our loss and grief is great because we loved him and we will miss him. But, if we see death as the end of everything rather than as the passage to everything we will deny ourselves the peace of knowing that he truly is in a better place.

The Life and Legacy of Jay Williams

There are three things that characterize Jay to me. I found all of these characteristics to be true as I worked with Jay during Chrysalis this past year.

1. He loved Jesus.

Man, did he love Jesus. He was not willing to lose sight of him. In everything that he did and said, Jay wanted to help others understand what he had come to know and love about Jesus.

Jay was not a religious person, but he had an undeniable faith. He was not trying to impress anybody, and yet, we were all impressed with him. His faith was rich and deep and true. He did everything he could to let you know that you were a child of God without making you feel like there was something wrong with you if you were not yet one. Jesus defined who he wanted to be.

I have to say that Jay was one of the most Christ-like men I have ever met.

2. Because he loved Jesus, He loved others.

In the time that I knew Jay (which was not long enough), he never met a stranger. He may have found you strange, but that never stopped him from talking with you and engaging you in conversation. I may have been the only one he did this to, but he had an awful tendency of not looking me in the eyes when we talked. I know he was not intimidated, I do not think Jay was scared of anything. I guess he was just a humble guy and did not want to make anybody else feel uncomfortable.

It always amazed me how he could talk people into doing or trying things they would not have done on their own. I remember him tying a tight-rope thing to a tree and the back of a truck and trying to teach a few people how to get on and off without hurting themselves. That was just his way. He did not believe that people could not do things. They just needed somebody to believe in them. So, there was Jay ready to believe. He believed in others because Jesus believed in him.

3. Because he loved others, he tried to help others see Jesus.

Everything Jay did and everything he was gave Jay an opportunity to be a light for Jesus. Jay was not a preacher or an evangelist, but everything he did reflected his faith in Jesus. That is what he wanted most of all, for people to know the one who had changed his life.

I do not expect any words of mine to capture all that Jay was. I just hope to remind myself of all that Jay was to me and how I am a better man having known him.

I will miss you my friend, but the wait will not be long. I will see you soon enough.

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39 thoughts on “A Tribute to Jay Williams | “He Loved Jesus””

  1. Working with Jay last year at Camp Dooly is an event I will always remember. He gave an inspirational talk in the conference room. Jay was a special guy, who brought you in close to him, and the Lord, the more you were around him. I met him as we practiced our talks at First Methodist Cordele. Jay was special…..

  2. He was friends with my daughter and her husband and they loved him. Whenever I would run into him somewhere, he always had a kind word…and that smile. His presence in a room just lit it up. That is all I should say. I feel like he would be blushing now.

      1. When I read this, it had “victor” written all over it. I didn’t even read the bloggers name until the end. a perfect reflection of who jay was. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. I did not know Jay at all, but am very touched by his life. Even in death, his life is ministering to others! What a testimony and a legacy to leave behind! May God be glorified and may the Holy Spirit comfort those grieving his loss.

  4. I am so sad to hear what happened to Jay. Reading your tribute, I am so happy to know that he is in Heaven now. I didn’t really know him… talked to him a few times at a race here or there. But, he was the sort of always-friendly person to just walk up to a complete stranger, like he did to me, and strike up a conversation and make them feel important. So few people have the ability to make everyone else feel golden… I wish Jesus shined through me the same way. My condolences to his family and friends.

  5. I met Jay one time at his grandmother’s funeral. I wish I could have known him better. Through your words and others Jay’s witness is and will always be glorious. This pastor wishes there were more Jays in the world. Grace and peace to you his friends and family.

  6. I did not know Jay, but heard of him through a friend’s post today. After reading about him above, I am so happy to know that tonight he is in the arms of Jesus. I pray that through this tragedy, many will hear of Jay’s heart for the Lord and many will come to know Jesus because of Jay. Thank you for posting this so that complete strangers (such as I) can rejoice for him and share his story. While I will never know Jay on this earth, I look forward to meeting him in heaven. My heart aches for all of his family and friends and I thank you for sharing him with us this way.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I pray that any words of mine might provide comfort and continue to spread the power of God to change a heart and capture a life for his glory.

  7. This is great. I wrote a short blog about Jay and his live. He was a dear friend of my children. He painted two rooms as a surprise for my wonderful daughter in law this week while she and my son were away.

  8. Reading this made me think and cry. It made me realize that I need to be a better friend, mother, daughter, sister, neighbor, person. It made me question if it were me, what would be written. Its sad that it took this to make me realize the changes I need to make in my life but like someone already commented, there is no telling how many people will be witnessed to through this tragedy.

    1. Sarah,

      Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a tragedy for God to speak most clearly to us. It is not when things are going well that we are most open to listen, but when we are faced with the reality of our own mortality. God will guide you, just be open.

  9. I met Jay when I moved to SAR my tenth grade year! I experienced many ups and downs throughout the next three years and Jay was one of few I could always depend on to hug, smile, care, and be a true friend! We had lots of laughs and memories especially as we shared in bible study and many Chrysalis events! He def had the most contagious smile and caring spirit!

  10. grateful for your telling his story. grateful for a testimony of a life well lived…though way too short. praying for his family and those that knew him. jay was a micah 6:38 kinda of person.

  11. You pegged Jay correctly! I had the privilege of knowing him all his life and I can tell you, he has always loved people, always cared for anyone he came in contact with, and always had a way to make you feel like you were very important. And he did love Jesus~! In his own quiet, nonjudgemental way, he showed the gentleness and acceptance of our Savior in a way that touched so, so many people. Our hearts are broken in this little community of Plains, but I have come to realize that Jay’s influence reached well beyond this town he loved. Prayers are needed for comfort for his family!

    1. Lisa, thank you for sharing and affirming what I had come to know about Jay. I can’t even begin to imagine how the community of plains feels right now. Prayers are going out to the family and the entire Plains community.

  12. Jay will be hugely missed! Haven’t seen him since college but I do remember what a great man of God he was, his kindness, and his love. No doubt he is with Jesus!

  13. Well said, my friend. He will certainly be missed…but his impact will shine for eternity.

  14. I didn’t know Jay, but my son has worked on a Journey weekend with him. What is written for his legacy is what we all should want to be said. Not knowing him, I still think he would want us to think about what kind of legacy will we leave.

    1. Tammy, I couldn’t agree more. If we don’t take the time to think about what we will leave behind, we short-change our own impact on the lives of those around us. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Beautifully written! I had the blessed opportunity to work with Jay also on the Chrysalis walk he directed. Such a sweet, humble and kind person. I will never forget his smile – it would light up a room. Even through death Jay continues to point people to Christ.

    1. Writing helps me to process what God is doing (or trying to do). I just hope that any of my words might help others find ways of expressing what they are feeling. There are no answers here, mostly questions, but even still, we can find hope.

  16. haven’t seen Jay in years, but I remember him to be such a great person. I am deeply saddened to hear this, I will be praying for the family.

    1. I’ve only known share for a short time. But he has left a mark on my life. I will not forget.

      Please do pray for the family. This is a sudden shock and they will need all the support.

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