late this past wednesday night, after bible study, i found out that justin yates had passed away in a car accident.
justin was a guy i'd worked with in the life skills class at my high school. he had this contagious joy about him, something that i never really saw in another person before. i'd known him since elementary school, but had never truly gotten to know him. senior year, almost as a last-minute switch, i chose the peer tutors class as one of my electives. they had mentioned they always needed guys in the class, and i had an opening. so i signed up.
it was one of the best decisions i've ever made in my entire life.
the kids in this class were some of the most beautiful people i'd ever met. i began to work closely with a guy named ryan and we became good friends, along with all the other students in that class. justin was always the happy one. he was the perfect embodiment of the joy of christ–total, unassuming acceptance of all. he was a leader, he was loving, and even though he didn't speak using words, he connected with more people on a much deeper level than many people could hope to in their lifetimes.
his death hit me hard. it was completely unexpected. he was only twenty-one. i can't even begin to imagine the pain his family is going through, or that of those who had worked personally with him for much longer than i had.
God has been faithful and quick to encourage me and show me love through my family and friends. becca, even though she was dealing with her own stuff, offered her time to talk through my thoughts with me. countless friends have offered support and love (and good advice). the people who are also feeling justin's loss have been passing along scripture and words of encouragement. i've been struck by how this one guy has impacted the lives of so many people. i mean, countless people.
throughout it all, i've been reminded that God is not One who makes mistakes. that He is good no matter what happens, no matter how unclear His will is. no matter how much it seems that surely it must have been a mistake. God loves His children passionately. and right now, even though it reads like a cliché sympathy card, the beautiful truth is that justin is celebrating and praising Jesus right now. no ailments, no pain, no sin. i don't know if that means justin looks or acts different. seemed to me when i was with him, he was a lot closer to perfect than i was. but i do know it means that justin is perfectly happy, and perfectly satisfied, because he is with his Creator, who knows and loves him intimately. and that's a reality for all of us.
i haven't had the chance to see anyone else yet… i'm hoping to do that tomorrow. and i feel like tomorrow's going to be a day of tears. but it will also be a day of profound happiness.
God is good.