Ray…

rayI find it hard to write about my friend Ray.  His sudden death at 52 last week rocked my soul.  Other friends my age who have passed away died from cancer; you had weeks to prepare.  Ray was walking through the church office two hours before he died.

Ray had a way of filling space with positivity.  His response to the question, “How are you?” was always the same: “It’s the best day of my entire life.”  No matter how many times you heard it, you had to smile.

Ray was a servant extraordinaire.  If a need stirred his heart, he jumped in with both feet.  Feed 1000 people for VBS?  Sure.  Lead a mission team to New York City?  Tell me when.  Teach a group on his second Sunday at ADBC because the teacher was in an accident?  No problem.  Talk to the awkward teenage male?  Done.

Ray did have a clear idea of how things ought to be done.  It was only half a joke when he said, “There’s the right way, the wrong way, and the Ray way.”  This meant he could be stubborn and bullheaded.  Behind his hardheadedness there was a heart of compassion that longed for people to connect to each other and to God.

He a vision and energy to make it reality.  Let’s take that hill.  Let’s get this project done.  He loved to dream big for God’s Kingdom.  As I said at his funeral, if I ever had to charge the gates of hell with a squirt gun, I would want Ray High beside me.

Ray was a 3 AM friend to me.  He respected me as his pastor, but he also valued me as his friend.  I thank God for putting Ray in my life.

Over the past week, I’ve had strange flashbacks of my father’s death, which was before my memory took shape.  “This,” I thought, “must be what it was like when Daddy died.”  Shock. Why? What can we do?  A crowded church, with every man thinking “It could have been me.”

I do not pretend to know why people die before their time, but I have wrestled with that question my entire life.  In fitful prayers I’ve given God one hundred reasons why Ray should not have died; but God has not reversed time.  Ultimately, I believe God does not always offer us answers to “why.”  Maybe our heads would explode if we knew.  But I believe God offers us Himself.  We trust Him when we do not know.

This is true faith, not just faith born in a moment of emotion.  True faith is trusting God is good when there is hurt in your heart.  True faith is extending your heart for God to lead you even when you do not have the answers you want.

In this time of grief, I choose to trust.  I believe my God is for me, for us.  The pain of today does not overshadow the grace of eternity.  It is that eternal grace that Ray embraced – and made February 15, 2017, the day he saw Jesus, the best day of his entire life.

8 thoughts on “Ray…

  1. Thank you for sharing this with us Pastor Clay.

    I also have wrestled with those questions to God about why certain people had to die. Tommy and I have been around quite a bit of death in our 21 years of marriage and it seems like the younger ones are the ones I seem to struggle with the most. I would ask God why would you take them when they are so young? Why would you make their parents go through such awful grief? I didn’t always get the answers I was looking for, but you did say it Best above when you said

    “But I believe God offers us Himself. We trust Him when we do not know.”

    I do trust that God knew what he was doing when he took away all of friend’s children, our friends, our previous Pastor and all those that we loved. I know that He is in control and that He has a plan. When I don’t understand the things that are going on I try to give it over to God and draw closer to Him, because I know He is the only one that can handle things.

    Thanks again for your loving thoughts on Ray and I will be praying for you too, as well as for Andrea and the children.

    Kim Wright

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  2. Clay, I know this is very hard for you, Ray’s family, friends, & his church family. We will all miss Ray. There is a lot that we do not understand & we do sometimes question God, especially when He gives us no warning of pending doom & we are left in utter shock. The good thing is that God knows His Own plan, why He does things as He does, & He is always with us with His faithful love & understanding for our hurt. One day all these things may be made known to us or else by then it will no longer matter. I am praying for you & for all who are hurting & trying to process Ray’s sudden & too soon departure. I pray for God’s peace & comfort & for you to rejoice in God’s promise that you will see Ray & all other believers again one day soon. Chin up, Pastor Clay, until Jesus comes or calls you home, thoughts & prayers. 🙏🏼✝️

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  3. Pastor Clay I lift you up in Prayer. Loosing a friend, brother in Christ and your 3 o’clock a.m. go to person all at once. So sudden and with out warning. It’s unbelievably and emotionally hard to understand Why. Why Ray High ? Pastor Clay you described Ray High to a “T” at his celebration service. It was a beautiful message and wonderful tribute to Ray. I know he was looking down saying ; Well done My Pastor and Brother ! He was a faithful servant with a Godly heart in everything he did. Ray High left a legacy for so many to example by. ( This is the Best Day of my Life.) How Blessed we were to have had such a strong pillar in this community like Ray. Continued Prayers for Andrea, Ann-Elizabeth, Michael and Matthew. They are such a caring, loving, and benevolent family. God hold them tight. Please give them comfort that only You can give at a time like this. Lifting up all of you in Prayer everyday. Laney Ann

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  4. Clay, what a beautiful tribute! Ray must have been quite a guy! Your comments struck home for me, I really needed to see them. Things have been tough lately and I know that God has not and will not turn his back on me. Your comments are a welcome reminder to me. We serve an awesome God!

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  5. I didn’t know Ray, but I know he’s my brother. I know from this brief memory that I would have liked him. Enjoy this day, Ray!

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  6. After the loss of my son at the age of nineteen, I have to believe God turned his death into good: His purpose here was fulfilled but his legacy would carry on in the lives of others, including myself. Likewise, that is most certainly true of Ray. Now we keep watch on all the lives he touched!

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  7. Ray was called for his final earthly mission, and that was to help people take their next step. I feel there were many he touched, in his life, and at the funeral that have chose to do better and follow God.

    Way to go Ray….IHN.

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