Today I write this blog entry with a heavy heart. It’s heavy with both hope and sadness…which I suppose is the definition of “bittersweet” as seen in the title above.
The Space Coast of Florida, including The Way Church, the Faaborg family, and everyone else who knew him, are losing a great man of Christ today. Our brother Aaron Severtson departed this morning at 7:30ish on a journey to the great state of Kansas.
Aaron’s wife, Erica, has been living in Kansas for the past few years while she studies for her Doctorate degree at Kansas University. At the time that Aaron and Erica made the difficult decision to live apart like this, God presented Kansas University as the best opportunity for Erica’s schooling, while Aaron had a good job (which would be needed to support the couple) and was a major part of The Way Church. It was a decision that most probably wouldn’t have made or been able to withstand this long…but the Severtson’s were faithful to God’s plan for their lives and through their obedience many lives have been touched through both of them.
I officially got acquainted with Aaron at the fantasy football draft for The Way Church in August, 2009 – a short time ago indeed. Prior to that I had seen him every Sunday that I helped setup the church’s equipment in the courtyard and cafeteria of Hoover Middle School. You see, we were a church without a true “home” at that point and had to set up and tear down each week, though we were truly blessed to be able to use the school for our Sunday service.
Aaron was always working diligently setting up sound equipment for the church band, in which he played the bass guitar and also was the primary sound technician. He took the band’s worship set very seriously, realizing how many lives could be touched and the value of the quality of our worship to God as a token of thanks for all He does for us. I mistook Aaron’s focus for something else…truth be told I thought he was a bit of a “stick in the mud” at the time.
How often do we pre-judge people like that? I am darn good at it, something I’m trying to change. It’s funny though how two people who haven’t spoke yet are in each other’s company a lot can both feel like the other person must just be a jerk and doesn’t want to get to know them! But I digress…
At the fantasy football party you get a chance to do what most men love to do: talk football with other men. What a great gift God gave us in the game of football. Aaron and I, along with other guys there, had discussions about players and teams…only to find out that we were each fans of NFC West division rivals – he the Arizona Cardinals and me the San Francisco 49ers – a rivalry that would become God’s blessing for our friendship.
You see, football became a big part of our initial friendship. After the fantasy football draft party, Aaron and I would routinely go back and forth on the league website in the forum section (a place to post a topics and comment on them). It was mostly satirical type stuff, right up my alley and apparently his too. We also both had strange little traditions where we would change our team picture and name before each week’s match-up. We found out through these things that we had a lot in common.
When the NFL season opened, the first game my beloved 49ers played was against Aaron’s own Cardinals. We watched the game together (or part of it at least…foggy memory on that one) and jabbed back and forth at one another throughout the contest. That began a semi-frequent tradition of hanging out together that later would include playing Madden NFL 2010 on the Wii as football continued to draw us together.
Of course, we also attended the same church and were men seeking God. One evening we were hanging out and I’m not even sure football watching/video game playing was involved (though it could have been!). We got on the topic of our pasts and shared our testimonies with one another. It was apparent we had both been something of “prodigal sons” here in the same area, around the same time…yet of course never knew each other existed back then.
Our relationship developed into one of accountability, trust, fellowship…a real-life example of one brother propping the other up as needed. Aaron proved to be a down-to-earth person who shared in my struggles yet was focused on God’s path…someone I could share things with and not worry about being judged yet I knew he would provoke me to good works.
He was an integral part of a Wednesday morning Men’s Breakfast group that we started this year, mostly because he agreed that he would show up whenever he was not out-of-town on business. Sometimes it was just the two of us sitting in MeMaw’s at 7:00AM eating greasy breakfasts, drinking coffee, and talking about life together.
He urged me to bring more of God to the breakfast rather than just talking about work, family, boats, fishing, etc. If I asked him to bring a thought to the table or to be prepared to discuss something that God placed on my heart he was always ready to do so. This Men’s group lead my wife and I to begin the Life Group Leadership class at church so that we would be prepared to host or lead a Life Group if the Lord willed it.
Aaron was the type of friend you had in high school or college – the kind of guy who would call and see what you were doing and you’d just hang out for no good reason. My wife, Steph, loved Aaron and could see how good of a friend he was to me, a good influence, strong man of God, etc. He was always welcome on a moment’s notice in our home (and still is!).
Our children love Aaron too and whenever they saw him they’d call out “Aaron! Aaron’s here!” Collin in particular identified Aaron as a friend whom he was always very excited to see. It was unique because at this time Collin was three and didn’t remember everyone’s name or even recognize them. He spent plenty of time sitting on the couch next to Aaron while we watched football or played the Wii, often falling asleep next to him.
Aaron always greeted the kids and was upbeat and friendly with them, paying attention to their broken sentences and long stories. Aidan was pretty upset last night as we said our goodbyes to Aaron, and could be seen trying to cover up tears through the living room window as I stood outside talking to my good friend once more before he left.
So we have a lot that we will miss about Aaron leaving us on his way to the midwest, his wife, and the next part of God’s journey for his life. But we have a lot of hope and happiness in our hearts too for the great things that lie ahead of our dear friend.
He get’s to be with his wife, live with her as her husband, after years of being thousands of miles apart. We’ve met Erica before and absolutely loved her. We played “Apples to Apples” with the two of them when she was able to come to Florida for a visit this year. She has a great sense of humor and her and Aaron were really funny together as a couple. I’ll never forget hearing the words “Aaron Severtson!” whenever he’d make a joke at her expense or otherwise say something silly. I still hear her saying his name whenever I hear the name “Erica” or when he would talk to her on the phone.
God also blessed Aaron with a job in Kansas, something that had been holding him back from making the move for the past few years. This allows the Severtson’s to continue with the plan of Erica finishing her schooling with Aaron bringing home the bacon.
Lastly Aaron had some revelation into where God wants him to go with his life beyond this move to Kansas (though the move is a part of that plan). This whole thing culminated in the last few months and we’re so glad to have been a part of it. I know Aaron will be great at the things God has in store for him to do and I’m really excited for he and Erica.
Aaron made me a better man, or rather, Christ made me a better man in-part through Aaron’s friendship. I now pray that the Lord will place another in my life who can help me grow into the next phase of my spiritual life…and be even a fraction of what Aaron meant to me, and still does. I hope that I was useful in being a conduit for God to also touch Aaron’s life if that was the plan.
But today I wish Aaron Severtson goodbye, God speed, and pray that we are able to see each other sooner than later if it’s in the cards. I get a happy feeling thinking of what’s in store for him, and I thank God for putting Aaron in my life. You will be missed but not forgotten brother.