His smile was infectiously buoyant and irrepressible. Like Lewis Carrol's Cheshire Cat, Jay McDonald's smile lingers in the memories of all who knew and loved him even though now he is gone. Jay McDonald departed this life suddenly, shockingly, a week ago at the young age of 52. His memorial service this past weekend, like Jay himself, bubbled over with praise and joy for a life well lived.
For Jay radiated joy. His countenance and every breath and movement exuded a love for the life with which God had blessed him. That radiant joy washed over everyone who came in contact with him. He relished God's love but did not hoard it. Instead he handed it out to all.
Tributes most often are written to those who have passed from this life, less often to those who remain. The same can be said for appreciation in the sense that we most often appreciate what we can no longer have. This explains the shock that we, the earth bound, feel when someone of such priceless qualities as Jay McDonald is taken from us prematurely. When someone like Jay slips from our grasp, we fumble to express what we shouldn't have waited so long to say. This often produces regret and guilt.
Yet I'm convinced of such regret that Jay would have none of it. Rather than look back with regret he would exhort us to live with an expectancy of good things to come from the hand of our loving Father. Would Jay find it ironic, would he even be resentful, that he has been taken from this life, from his loving wife and children, with so much left to live for,when his family still needs him so? I dare say not. For even in death I believe he would entrust those most precious to him in this life to the loving and wise God whom he served.
Great men walk among us who have never made a headline, never starred in some sophomoric You Tube video nor cheaply sought the limelight. Jay McDonald's godly influence rippled out around the world through his humble, bountiful life.
So the finest tribute that I can pay to him would be to follow him as he followed Christ and to let his impish, joyous smile inspire my own.