Tag Archives: Death

The Lingering Effect of Death’s Assault

In Memory of

Jacob Carlyle Davis

August 20, 1986 – December 28, 2010

Two years ago my family experienced one of the most devastating events we had ever faced. Two years ago my brother-in-law died in a car accident. The “facts” of what happened simply do not have the ability to communicate the emotions that I feel this morning as I remember him and how much I miss him. His mom and sister (my wife) feel a different kind of pain. Their knowledge of him was intimate, personal and began from before Jacob entered into the world. When I met him, Jacob didn’t even know who he wanted to be. He didn’t know that he was supposed to become anything. He was a chubby kid struggling to make sense of the inhumanity of middle schoolers. I knew Jacob for more than half of his life. I think that’s what hurts the most. There is no more time for us.

I know what I believe about death. As a follower of Jesus I know Jacob is with our Savior. I know. I know Jacob loved Jesus and never missed an opportunity to share this with those around him. I know he loved helping others get over what ailed them. He was good at that. But, he is no here to help me! He is gone and I miss him.

All of the cute things that we say sometimes really don’t help. “He lives on in our memories.” Yeah, well memories have a tendency to fade. “His love will carry you through.” OK, thanks but, I’d rather feel the warm embrace rather than the cold recollection of a time gone by.

I woke up this morning and saw some of the comments of those who loved Jacob as they remembered him. I was overwhelmed by the flood of emotion that I felt as I read them. I have heard that the depth of our pain is a reflection of the love we had/have for those now gone. I guess I loved/love him more than I realized. This is the realization I didn’t expect.

Two years, and I still feel the lingering effect of death’s assault on my heart. Jacob may not have been my flesh and blood, but we were family. I have come to realize that I still miss him and that will be OK. There is no expiration date on love. For this I am grateful.

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Remembering James Bailey Bodrey | “Too Short A Life”

James Bailey Bodrey

April 1, 1994 – October 20, 2012

I found out about James’ accident this morning as I was getting ready for a meeting. I was shocked by the news that his accident required him being taken to Macon. In the span of a couple of hours the news was not getting better. The sinking feeling in my stomach increased as word began to spread. By mid-afternoon, the worst outcome from this entire ordeal was realized. James had died, and part of all of the hearts of those of us who cared for him felt as if it had died too.

There are so many emotions that come over you when someone you know dies. But, those emotions are intensified and are even worse when that person is younger than you are. My first reaction to the news was anger. I was angry that another young man had died before the prime of his life. I was angry because it just did not seem fair that James died. I was angry at all the crazy things that would be said in an attempt to make the family “feel better.” There is no feeling better about this. This event, these moments are horrible and none of us wants to even think about them for another second!

But, as the day went on I became angry at myself. I realized that I made the mistake (once again) that I promised I would never make. I was angry because of all those moments and days that I had taken for granted. Life is far too short to allow ourselves to drift through it. I was upset about all of this, but then something else struck me. What struck me was all the young men and women at James’ alma mater, Crisp Academy, who knew and loved him. I thought of them and to them I direct these next words.

———————————————–

Dear Crisp Academy Student,

I do not pretend to know how you are feeling. For many of you, the shock of this will take some time to think through. My prayer is that as you think about James and his life, that you would also take a look at your own life. And think about never taking any day for granted again.

How do you take a day for granted? When you complain about what you would rather be doing, instead of enjoying what you are doing (even when it’s homework or sitting in a classroom). When you are wondering about what somebody else said and then waste all that time worrying and plotting. You will never get that time back, and it was spent on something that will not make your life better. When you are so preoccupied with what is coming next in life that you will completely miss what is happening now. These are all ways that we take the gift of each day for granted.

Every time someone younger than me dies I am reminded that life is a precious gift. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Every morning is an opportunity to give thanks to God for opening our eyes. I want to remind you, in spite of your young age, to remember that each minute of life is given to us to enjoy. Don’t waste another day doing anything that you will regret.

My memories of James come from going to Crisp Academy every Wednesday and seeing him walk into the lunchroom with that goofy grin on his face and those bigger than life ears sticking out from the side of his head. I can hear him cutting up and talking trash about some rival team or the “other school in the county.” I remember him enjoying being who he was. He didn’t really try to pretend to be someone else. That is what I will remember.

Take care of yourself, strive to truly live everyday, enjoy every moment and may God bless you.

Victor Scott
Youth Pastor
Cordele First UMC

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.

The Unexpected Has Happened… Again | David Austin Balfour Remembered

In Memory of

David Austin Balfour

September 5, 1979 – January 11, 2012

I woke up this morning to the news that a classmate was no longer walking this earth. We were acquaintances in high school, but we interacted often enough to get to know each other.

As I read the news on the internet and on his facebook page I had a memory flash into my mind of us sitting in Mrs. Griswell’s Senior English class. I was sitting near the back of the room, second row from the door. He was sitting in the first row next to the door, third chair from the front, facing the rest of the class, with his classic grin. If you knew David, you know which one I’m talking about. There wasn’t a care in the world to him. I wished then that I could know what that felt like.

This is first memory that came to mind this morning.

It would be a lie to say that I don’t know why I am so bothered by the news of David’s death. He is gone. No more status updates on facebook. No more class reunions to attend. David’s journey on this earth has come to an end. And I am bothered.

I am bothered because I wish the circumstances were different. I am bothered because there were things left unsaid for those that knew him most and best. I am bothered because I really don’t have anything to say that will change the reality of what happened last night. But, I think what bothers me most is that I was reminded, yet again, that there is no guarantee of tomorrow for any of us. I don’t think David was thinking yesterday that he would not be here today. I don’t think that it even crossed his mind that January 11, 2012 was going to be his last day on Earth.

The fact that life is so fragile, so unpredictable should make all of us carefully consider what we invest our time into. The unexpected has happened…again. Losing someone we know or love cannot be avoided. We would just rather not think about it. But, today we don’t have that luxury. Today we are faced with David’s death and our mortality. Today we can’t avoid dealing with the reality of death and the eventuality of our own demise.

Days like today are difficult. The following words have helped me understand how I should respond and deal with the reality of events like David’s death. I share them here, not as an explanation of why this happened. That would be foolish. I share them to let all of us know that we are not alone in our grief and pain. Our sadness and contemplation. I hope that they help to provide some perspective.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. [Source]

David, I hear the bell tolling.