You Have Struggled with God
Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. - Genesis 32:24
On Monday morning, I woke up to a dreadful string of messages. My eyes sunk inward and my chest sagged. I normally drive to work in silence. But this time, the silence seemed cascading, more fierce, more silent. I don't have the vocabulary of Aaron Everingham to do justice to the frustration of losing the creative genius of Aaron Everingham — Danielle's "And the poetry" works though. In the days of echoing silence, I found myself humming lyrics from someone else (Gileah Taylor),
You feel everything’s real between the lines
And so you write
Follow the muse
I’ll catch up with you
I knew Aaron Everingham almost exclusively through social media. We were angsty alcohol drinkers who spent time writing things people will eventually ignore or forget. Aaron the waxing poet. Me the blunted theologian. Our friendship extended to private discussions of ecumenical Christianity, family, and doubt. And on more than one occasion, Torrey Gazette offered Aaron a conduit to express those thoughts. Worried that his post might upset readers, Aaron called me and we talked for a couple hours. I listened and tried to be encouraging. I wanted Aaron to write. I wasn't much interested in trying to answer his every question. And so he wrote. Aaron is possibly the best writer to grace Torrey Gazette. He certainly has been the most elegant.
During the time I knew him, Aaron's relationship with the church and theology was tenuous at best. I could never pretend that Aaron ticked the box reading "theologically conservative." Aaron's theology contained doubts. Perhaps even angry denials. But he was at his best when he allowed himself to wrestle with God. This public wrestling caused people to drift away from him — I recall one specific instance when a student from WTS California called him a heretic merely for affirming old earth creationism. Like the Patriarch Jacob, Aaron was left alone to wrestle with His God. Almost everything Aaron wrote have the marks of this wrestling. When you read Aaron on doctrine, church, and the Scriptures you could hear him asking like Jacob, “Please tell me Your name” (Gen 32:29).
The Scriptures tell us that Jacob wrestled through the night. The greater portion of Genesis though teaches us that Jacob had been wrestling with God for much longer. In this instance, submission to God can be exemplified by the stirring of late night doubt. Aaron never landed in a theological tradition. He never even stayed particularly long. But through my dialogue with him, he never doubted that baptism united him with Christ — though at times he wanted to doubt it. God's claim upon Aaron was both comforting and haunting. The final words Aaron wrote for TG are particularly stirring,
"If God can preserve even those Christians who stared death in the face with likely hundreds of unanswered questions, will He do so today? If martyrdom is not redemptively meritorious, and all men die, then can I not face my own death with an innumerable host of other Christians, with an innumerable number of doubts and questions? I believe that the earliest Christians were given the same, unchanging quality of God’s grace that we are today. It is in God’s goodness, the assurance granted me through baptism, and the wide-angle lens through which I view the history of His people, that I have no real fear in my small, rudderless life raft."
I know things got darker for Aaron. Sometimes the darkness is not of our own making. But of Christ it is said,
"Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it." - John 1:4-5
I believe like Jacob, God welcomed home that "small, rudderless life raft" and because of Jesus Christ "He blessed him there" (Gen 32:29).
You will be missed, Aaron.