On June 6, 2017 a 17 year old Watermark member named Austin Silva went in for a routine surgery to have wisdom teeth removed. His body did not respond well to anesthesia and he's been in a state of unconsciousness ever since.
As Austin's condition has failed to improve, here’s a question many are asking: Why would God allow something like this to happen to someone so young? I would like to propose that one answer to this question may be that Austin has lived a full and complete life and God is now content to move him on to a new chapter or even bring him home. While Austin’s healthy life appears short, I think I could make a case that Austin is closer to living a full life in his 17 years than most who live into their 80’s or 90’s. Consider the following four ways Austin’s life has been filled.
First, Austin’s life is filled with salvation. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Humans are prideful by nature. Many of us find it very hard to find the humility to admit that we don’t have it all together. By God’s grace, Austin is filled with the humility necessary to confess his sins. He openly acknowledges specific weaknesses like his desire to please others, his pride, and his often selfish attitude. Many people live their lives in stubborn pride and the results are shallow and empty. But Austin’s life is filled with humility, honesty, and truth. As Austin came to grips with and confessed his sin, He found love and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Trusting Christ for the forgiveness of his sins, Austin’s life is full of purity, redemption, restoration, and hope.
Second, Austin’s life is filled with sacrificial service. Luke 9:23 says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Austin serves children faithfully at his church and, with extreme sacrifice and devotion, he serves campers with special needs at Camp Barnabas. He was also actively striving to learn to consistently deny himself in order serve his peers and his family. Austin is young, and he hasn't had Hollywood romance or experienced marriage, having children, or grandchildren. And yet, his life is filled with more love than most because of the way he serves others. Austin teaches us that we don’t need to find “the one” in order to experience the full beauty of love. There are plenty of bad boyfriends, husbands, and dads out there that are filled with far less love than Austin. As Austin sought to serve others in the name of Christ, he found himself filled with a Christ-like love marked by patience, kindness, humility, unselfishness, peace, joy, and hope.
Third, Austin’s life is filled with purpose. Psalm 107:2 says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.” How many people struggle through the decades of their life searching for purpose? How many teenagers live their days dominated by fear of what other people think about them? Austin Silva knows who he is, and he is a man on a mission from God. Not many people get to stand up in front of hundreds of people and proclaim what God has done in their lives, but Austin did (listen to Austin's testimony here). Because of Jesus Christ, Austin’s life is filled with conviction, confidence, and a fearlessness to boldly share about the good news of God’s free gift of salvation.
Finally, Austin’s life is filled with disciple-making. Matthew 28:19 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. Many of Austin’s closest friends say he is a spiritual leader in their lives. He doesn't have a big, loud, charismatic personality and he doesn't beat people over the head with the bible, but he leads others towards God with a gentle strength through his consistent example, his love for others, and his willingness to share truth. This past year, Javar Duckett devoted his life to Christ as a direct result of Austin’s influence. In May of 2017, Austin got the chance to baptize Javar as a public declaration of God’s work of salvation through Jesus Christ. How many people get to do something like that?! How many people get to lead their friend to faith in Christ and celebrate their baptism? Javar is just one example. Austin is young, but his life is full of fruit and a legacy of disciple making that will continue to multiply.
John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” What does it mean to live the full life that Jesus came to give us? Just look at the paragraphs above…Austin Silva’s life gives us the answer. While it appears that Austin’s life is being stolen, killed, and destroyed, we know better. God has given Austin life and it is full!