Yesterday, June 9th, 2020, marks one year since Aaron Lee went to be with the Lord. While that statement might not mean much to all of you it means everything to me. It brings up a steady mixture of emotions; some happy, some sad, some confused and angry, but mostly just a feeling of longing.
I long to hear his voice, to hear him laugh, to give him a hug. We all long to talk to him and spend time with him. More than that, I long for a day when sin, sadness, suicide, and death no longer have power in our lives. I long for the day that I stand with those who have gone before me and sing God’s praise forever.
A group of us met up at the church to celebrate and honor Aaron last night. We sang his favorite worship song and released balloons in his honor, but maybe the most meaningful part of the evening was hearing from our youth pastor Cleve Mallory.
Cleve encouraged us to share our memories of Aaron. He encouraged us to remember who Aaron was, to find peace in knowing where Aaron is right now, and to look forward to the truth of what is to come.
Memories are important. Sharing them is one of the many ways we honor those who are no longer here. Sharing memories is how we connect and encourage others. Sharing memories is healing.
So I want to briefly share an overview of my memories of Aaron with all of you.
I met Aaron Lee when I was a senior in high school which would have made him a freshman. Aaron was one of those kids that liked people to think he was all big and tough but the Eastmont youth group wasn’t fooled and quickly fell in love with his kind-hearted spirit.
I overheard Aaron saying one day that he didn’t have a study bible and that he’d really like one. The Lord laid it on my heart to go buy him one so I did. I wanted to give it to him anonymously but our youth intern felt like Aaron needed to see how much our group cared about him.
When I gave Aaron his new bible he just looked at it surprised and asked me if it was for him. I told him that I wanted him to have a study bible because I believed God had a lot he wanted to teach him, and God did some amazing things through Aaron Lee.
Soon after that Aaron started calling me mama. If you knew Aaron then you know that Aaron loved his crew and loved his family. He was always looking to expand his family. He dubbed several of the adult leaders in our youth group his mothers and I was lucky enough to be in that group. It’s one of my favorite titles I’ve ever been given.
Over the years Aaron would randomly hold up his bible and shout from across the room “hey mama, I’ve still got my bible.” Even after I went off to college he’d see me in the hall and run up to hug me. “Hey, mama.”
Aaron loved music. He loved to worship the Lord. He had his favorite worship songs and wasn’t afraid to request them. One summer we sang “Ever Be” four times in the same week at our backyard bible clubs (1J2) worship time because I couldn’t tell him no when he requested it. He’d come into praise band practice just to listen. “I love it when you sing that song.”
Aaron was also an emotional guy. Aaron felt every emotion so strongly that a lot of times he only had room for one emotion at a time. Aaron and my little brother were close and on several nights KC would come to my room and ask me to talk to Aaron because he was upset.
We’d talk while KC drove to his house. I’d ask what was going on and sometimes he could explain and other times he couldn’t but either way we’d talk until KC got to him. I always ended the phone call the same way. “I love you son. Don’t do anything stupid. I’m always here if you need me,” and he’d respond “I won’t. I love you too mama.” I hope he really knew how much he was loved.
Just as he felt sadness and frustration deeply he also felt happiness and joy deeply and loudly for that matter. Aaron’s laugh could fill a room. You couldn’t help but smile when you heard him and believe me you could hear him coming from a mile away. He was so full of joy.
There are a million more stories I could tell about Aaron but these help sum up who Aaron was to me.
No matter how incredible Aaron was and how much hope I had for what his life would look like as he grew up, nothing can compare to Aaron’s life now. It’s an everlasting life. A life full of love and joy and peace. All the things Aaron ever wanted.
Aaron loved the Lord and gave his life to Him so I know he is in the presence of God and he’s praising Him with all the saints. To honor Aaron is to honor the one who Aaron praised in his life on earth, is praising now, and will praise forevermore.
Knowing where Aaron is gives me and others peace but acknowledgement of where Aaron is isn’t enough. We have to fix our eyes on what will be and allow it to challenge us.
What Will Be
We know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Paul expresses the desire to be with God in 2 Corinthians 5. As Christians, heaven begins to call to us more and more as we learn more about God. We long to be with the Lord. He is our main focus but having loved ones waiting sure does make heaven feel more real.
The truth is that one day those who have given their lives to the Lord will join those in heaven in the presence of God. One day we’ll be reunited. One day we’ll be face to face with Jesus and we’ll sing Ever Be (probably every day for eternity if Aaron has anything to say about it).
Because I know that heaven is what lies ahead, I want to take as many people with me as I can. That desire to make God known is Aaron’s legacy. That’s the challenge his life gave us. Aaron challenged all of us to love others deeply and to share with them the love of God. Challenge accepted, son.