Austin isn’t here anymore to imitate Jesus Christ,
but we are. This is our moment.
but we are. This is our moment.
On June 24, 2017, we celebrated Austin's life. We also celebrated his faith. Some of the young men pictured were able to share some of their memories of Austin. Samantha and Charlie spoke, too. Then, Todd Wagner spoke on the "13 Reasons You Ought to Imitate Austin". Here's an except of the conclusion of his talk.
Because Austin understood all of this life and his life was better because he understood who Jesus was. Yours will be too if you imitate him. The thirteenth reason you ought to imitate Austin is because Austin isn’t here to live anymore.
Austin can’t love Lake Highlands High School this year. You boys can.
Austin can’t be a godly husband. Some of you guys in this room can.
Austin can’t be a good big brother. Somebody in this room can.
Austin can’t share Christ with anybody. Some of you people in this room can.
Austin can’t be generous with his life. Some of you can.
Austin is the last person in this room we need to be concerned about. Austin is fine. The Lord has taken care of him. I talked to David and Suzanne the other night, and I just said, “Let me just tell you something. I know you prayed, ‘O God, put me in Austin’s place. Let me go.’”
God granted David and Suzanne their request of letting them live the more difficult life. Austin is with the Lord. He is free. There is no more struggling with his flesh. There is no anxiety. There is no concern for fleeting things. The deceitfulness of riches can’t touch him. Do you know what’s really hard? To honor the Lord in the land of the living.
God has given you more years. You said, “Lord, let me live the hard road.” He’s going to say, “Go live it. Don’t you worry about your boy. I’ve got your boy. I didn’t need him. He was just done.” Those were the days appointed to him. The reason you should imitate Austin is because Austin isn’t here anymore to imitate Jesus Christ, and we are. This is our moment.
There’s going to be a day when we’re going to get to stand before the Lord and hopefully get to have people we led to Christ and we discipled and that we didn’t give ourselves away to stupid things the world tries to sell us are going to give us life, when we all know they won’t give us life. You should imitate Austin because Austin isn’t in here.
Are you missing him? Don’t miss him. The closer you get to Jesus, the closer you’re going to get to Austin. You just serve faithfully so that when you see Austin again you guys have stories to share, where you lived similarly in obedience to Jesus Christ. This was not a perfect kid. He had a perfect Savior. He did a lot of really good things because he denied himself and lived for Jesus. This is a high school kid you ought to imitate. You ought to send his tape to everybody and say, “Learn from him.”
Here's a link to the message and transcript.
Each year our high schoolers take one week to serve at Camp Barnabas near Branson, Mo. Austin has been blessed to serve there two summers. There, he forged special relationships with campers and missionaries. So many kids get to be ministered. So many kids get to serve as missionaries. They both benefit. Both blessed beyond words.
Austin and Samantha were suppose to go to the camp the week of his gravesite service. Instead, after his graveside service, Samantha was able to go for the last few days. On the last night, they have a special ceremony to acknowledge individuals who have died. Austin's name was added to the cross. So beautiful, but so sad. I look forward to maybe stopping by next year to see Austin's name on that cross.
Austin gave his testimony on March 22, 2017 to hundreds of other teenagers at Watermark Community Church. Listen to his own words.....
What does rejoicing everyday look like? How is that something I can maintain?
If God gives me success then He does, but either way, that’s not the focus. Paul says he has found contentment in all settings, in riches and in poverty. It is my job to lead my
family and live my life in such a way that I can show them and teach them that loving God is loving Him in poverty and in riches. The Lord will take care of me.
Job shows that wisdom knows that evil doesn’t last, it is unsustainable. In my nature, my foolish nature, I speculate…wanting, thinking, wishing to know the future. Not only is this fruitless, but unproductive. However harmless, there is no good in it. Goodness is found in rejoicing in God’s love and the freedom, the freedom in knowing what that means.
Lord help me to remember the feeling of You when I am tempted. Keep me focused on my purpose for You. My goal this summer is to rejoice in You every morning. Give me opportunities and fill me with Your words in these moments. My work for You is not about creating a resume, but the true desire to show people what You have shown me.
First of all, Austin was a normal teenager. He was not perfect...just ask his brother and sister. He had begun to turn the corner to become a man, but he was not 100% ready to leave his childhood behind. He was studious, he loved tennis and Wranglers, he enjoyed his friendships, and he loved horsing around.
At the base level, he was a person of faith. That is what fueled him. What does that mean? For us, it means he was...
Redeemed - He knew his Savior, and he sought his identity in Christ
Served - He knew helping others was part of his walk
Intentional - He lived his life on purpose, and he was ready for the challenge
Discipler - He desired to help others grow closer to God
Relational - He engaged with others to encourage and enjoy each other
Although in future blog, I'll dive deeper, it could be summed up as in the greatest two commandments....
“And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'” - Matthew 22:37-39 NASB
Losing Austin is hard. He and I laughed, played hard, wrestled, talked a lot, worked alongside each other, etc. As a parent, I never want to lose sight of those things, but it's God had a greater purpose for him beyond my dreams for him. I must admit I don't understand it yet. God help me to live like Austin in these difficult days.