We received a phone call this morning before church. When I picked up the phone, Sheriff Chris Prine was on the other end. Normally those kind of calls are never good, but Sheriff Prine was just checking on us as he was driving to Sunday School. Sheriff Prine is one of our favorite people. This goes back to January 15th when he walked up to us that first evening and told us, "we're not leaving until we find James." He passed along to us that the dive team had used the dry suits and equipment for the first time in a recovery effort in Tifton last Sunday. They spent all of last Sunday searching for, and eventually finding, a person that had gone missing in a body of water near Tifton. After they recovered the person, the Tift County sheriff came up to him and asked him to let him know what they needed to do to pay for the assistance from Lowndes County. Sheriff Prine replied, "You don't owe anything. James Eunice, number 23, paid it all." It was a bittersweet comment to hear, but, at the same time, made us proud for James' name to be associated with the effort.
Many of us have heard the term "paying it forward." A friend of ours runs one of the MacAdoos' drive-thru restaurants here in town, and he tells the story of one of his daily customers who will always pay for the person behind him, as well as his own meal. He's paying it forward. I have a good friend who's a senior executive in the Department of Defense. She tells me she takes the time to mentor others to repay the people who assisted her in getting to her position. She says she's paying it forward. James did that as well. Tammy relayed the story that Coach Gillespie told her, that anytime one of James' teammates needed help with a class, James was always one of the first to volunteer to help whoever it might be. He was paying it forward because others had helped him along with his studies. But I think if James had heard this comment, he would have referred all of us to the story of the one who paid it forward for all of us. James would be quick to say, "Let me tell you what Jesus has done in my life. He's the one who really paid it all." He would refer people to Romans 5:8: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Others have used the term unashamed when it came to describing how James lived his life. He was unashamed in how he lived, and in what he believed. James loved God and he loved people. James would be proud that his legacy is still being associated with that, and that his life still has an active purpose. We can pay it forward in many ways, but the bottom line is we all hope to leave this world a little better than we found it by the life we live. James tried to live his life to honor Christ, because he knew Christ paid it all for him . It's something we should all remember.