Faith & Worship: The best place to be

Published 5:24 pm Wednesday, August 2, 2017

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“Follow Me.” Matthew 9:9

I have the joy and privilege of teaching youth and family ministry at Fruitland Baptist Bible College in Hendersonville, N.C. every Tuesday morning. Each week I get to invest in men and women who have embraced and are pursuing God’s call on their lives for vocational ministry.   

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Twice a year I get to share with my classes a lesson about students that I have taught and led over the years that are so committed to Christ that, to me, they would do everything and anything they can in their lives to serve Him. These students are not better than any of the others that I have taught (I love every single one of them very much); they are just so in love with Christ that they devote their life to serving Him with no turning back.

These are the committed students. I liken them to that one anonymous disciple in John’s Gospel account that “Jesus loved” (John 19:26). I have taught countless students in my time as a youth minister. Students that I could say were that deeply devoted to Jesus could be counted on one hand.

I met Aaron Adams six years ago while visiting lunches at the middle school. I do this because I love to reach out to our own ministry’s students while inviting students that I do not know to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I don’t know if the administration of our great schools understand the magnitude of allowing me and our church staff to come and have lunch with our youth, but you have no idea of some of the Divine appointments I have had at school lunch tables over the years. For that, I am thankful for every open door you give me to come and share with our students. Aaron was one of them!

Aaron Adams, Rev. Peter McDonald

When I met him he was just a boy. He was in the seventh grade, had floppy hair, and he was awkward! His family had just moved here from South Carolina, and they were in pursuit of a church family to call their own. They visited with us a time or two at Midway, and it wasn’t long before they joined our family, and we have been undoubtedly blessed by having them. Words cannot describe how much love I have for them.

There was something different about Aaron when I met him. No, it wasn’t his strong Southern accent. It wasn’t his funny, slightly strange and outgoing personality. What made the difference was his love for Jesus, and his boldness to be a witness for Christ among his classmates.

I have had the joy and privilege of watching him grow and develop into a responsible, humble, honorable, and driven young man. Aaron has always maintained impeccable character in and out of his school. He has worked so hard while being a student. He has always had leadership qualities, and he has chosen to use his giftedness to help others in need, but also for the Kingdom of God.

Last week, we met for one last lunch table conversation to talk about his future. As of 11 a.m. on Monday morning, July 31, Aaron Adams became a part of the United States Air Force. His decision was grounded in God’s Word, direction, and peace.

The decision for him to serve in our great country’s military was not an easy one for him or his family. Having two boys of my own, it breaks my heart to think that one day I will have to let go and see them go on their own journey with the Lord. But as Aaron said to me, “They’ll be fine. So will I.” And I couldn’t agree more.

The difference between Aaron’s decision and so many of ours in life is that Aaron pursued God’s will, and now he is walking in it. This was the absolute best place for him to be. So often, we make decisions without ever asking God. We have our wants and wishes. We have our comforts, our passions, and our pride. We easily settle for what’s convenient, close to home, and what will make the most sense financially when making decisions.

You may ask, “What’s wrong with being sensible? What’s wrong with being close to home, and doing things that you love?” I say in response, nothing. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things if that’s the path that Christ leads you on. But if Jesus calls you to follow Him elsewhere or to do something that you were incapable of doing on your own strength, would you be willing to follow Him? I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Aaron Adams, a fresh out of high school, 18-year-old young man, is teaching us more in his one decision to leave for San Antonio Texas for boot camp than some of us would be able to teach in a life time. You can’t substitute following Jesus for anything else. Nothing comes close to doing and living in the will of God for your life.

The purpose of this article today is simply to challenge you with this question: Am I trusting and following Jesus with my whole life? Or am I doing my own thing, pursuing my own dreams, and living for myself? I didn’t write this for you to consider joining the military…I wrote this for you to consider following after Jesus, the One who is worthy of your soul, your life, and your devotion because of what He did for us on the cross (Ephesians 1:7).

I am proud of the man Aaron Adams has become. He is a hero to me, this community, and to this country. I ask that you pray for his mother, father, and sister as life around the Adams house just got way more difficult. I will miss having him around but I am thankful that God is leading him. Knowing that he is in the will of God couldn’t make me any happier. I know God must be pleased with Aaron. He will make a great soldier for this country, but he will also be a great witness for the Kingdom of God. I know that Aaron will see that he has an even greater mission to accomplish while he is in the service, and I trust that God will use Aaron to fulfill that purpose as he fights for our nation’s freedom.

I love you Aaron, and my family is praying for you and your family. Well done! Thank you for teaching us a lesson on the best place we could possibly be.

Rev. Peter McDonald, Midway Baptist Church