Richard Hyatt: Jeremy Williams offers lessons in healing

He won't stand in the pulpit and won't say a word, but Jeremy Williams will deliver a sermon Thursday night.

His presence at Christ Community Church at 7 p.m. will be a blessing. So will his story.

But it's important to this reckless football player for us to realize that the topic of this program is healing.

How can it be healing when he's sentenced to a special wheelchair and the painful movement of his eyes shares his words?

How can it be healing when this man who loved coaching so much is relegated to a home built by volunteers from a TV show that implores people to move that bus?

How can it be healing when he can't be on the sideline to watch massive young men play a game he taught them to love?

How can it be healing when every forced breath brings him closer to a moment he knows is inevitable?

Those are my questions, not his. This former Kendrick High School quarterback will tell you God has granted him a special healing.

I saw him when he played for Buzz Busby -- and those who remember his brand of football know his players had to be tough to survive. Williams was a defensive back at the University of Memphis where they called him "The Georgia Headhunter" because of his unbridled style.

I saw him in 2009 as the coach at Greenville High School. He was 38 and suffering from a death sentence known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. It was the playoffs and he came on to the field in a golf cart, but nothing could keep him away from a team that loved him.

I saw his smile when ABC-TV's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" came to Pine Mountain Valley to build him a new home. Breathing problems forced him to quit football in 2010.

In a recent article, Steve Hummer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution made sure we didn't forget Jeremy or his family, including 9-year-old Jacob, who suffers from spina bifida and has a pint-sized wheelchair of his own.

Along with the story are extremely personal photographs that make you feel like an intruder peeking in Jeremy's window.

Included is a 4-minute video that the Rev. Derrick Shields of Christ Community Church at 4078 Milgen Road shared Sunday. He also forwarded this unforgettable text from Jeremy Williams:

"A lot of people miss the boat on healing. We sometimes feel that we have the right to be healed or God owes (us). Wrong. We are to be Christ-like and Jesus suffered so we may too. We should consider pure joy to suffer in his name. It is us who really owe God. Life is God's gift to us. How we live it is our gift back to him."

Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at hyatt31906@knology.net.