“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” (Job 5:9).
For those of you waiting on part two of Tyler's miracle story, I have kind of pondered all week on how to tell this. I don't want anyone to be damaged by my words, but I think it's a valuable lesson of truth in how we live our lives that, when shared, can be a tool for Christian growth. If you know me, you know I have been blessed to have been a Christian pretty much my entire life - incredible parents and sister, wonderful family support - just blessed beyond measure. That said, I grew up in a home where words were (usually) used to affirm but never to curse God or curse anyone really. I can remember dad cussing before he became a Christian, usually in the garage when he thought no one was listening, and it wasn't even terrible words, more like something he'd utter if he smashed his thumb or something. One time when we had moved to New York for the summer for dad to do a construction project (I was six, and we moved on my birthday, so I had no friends and Kim and I marched all around our neighborhood inviting strangers to my party, so we had a great way to meet new kids.)
Anyway (I digress so much in my conversation, I'm worse than a two-year-old!)….anyway, one night someone came home from work with dad or came to visit or something and they had a beer on the porch stoop, and you would have thought he'd turned into a raging alcoholic - Kim and I cried and cried and were so disappointed, and I don't think he ever did it again (even unsaved). That gives you a glimpse into how blessed our lives were and how the habits of my parents gave me peace and security, not constant fighting or cursing or belittling. In our home when my children were growing up, we lived that same way - tried to use words to build up rather than tear down, and criticism was (hopefully) constructive. I didn't even allow slang that was an imitation of a curse word (dang, gosh dang, oh my gosh, etc.)
One time I was going to do a lesson to the youth group about slang and our words and how people identify our spirit by the words we say, and I went into my youth group, just starting ranting, carrying on, "I have had the worst week - I mean, it is so freaking bad that I just told Tom he could just kiss my hind end, I wasn't putting up with his crap another minute, people just constantly screw me over," you get the drift. About a minute into it, I looked back into this sea of faces, eyes wide open with this "The devil has just taken over our youth leader's body and stolen her - what are we going to do?" They looked at me like I had truly grown another head, fear and shock in their eyes. Finally, sweet Anna Houben interrupts me and says, "Teresa, what has gotten into you?" I burst out laughing and said, "Gotcha, didn't I? What were you thinking?" They started talking and saying they could not believe the things I was saying, how I was acting, scared them to death. Remember, I had not used one curse word, not even close - but I had used the slang that all the kids want to use. Me using it made them question my salvation, but them using it was common everyday language, just so they stayed close enough to the curse word to be "accepted" but didn't actually use it, hoping to stay on God's good side.
I didn't let my kids go to movies that were filth and trash and belittled God and used the name of Jesus in vain - I felt it was my call to protect them from entertaining themselves with sin, and I answered to God for what I allowed into their heads and hearts. They constantly gave me a hard time about it - Tyler used to say he'd be 25 years old before he could see a rated-R movie, and I told him even then he'd feel guilty! I tell you all this so you understand my convictions on these matters which will allow you to see "the rest of the story" through my heart. After Ty got the call, we packed him up and deposited him to these young men, and they took off for California, driving all the way. We didn't hear much from him during the ride - I would try to get him to tell me what he was seeing and he'd say, "Just fields, Mom, just fields."
I've since then traveled a few places and I think of what he said, and there were "just fields" for large portions of the drive. To try to make a long story short, Molli and I flew out to see them at the Spirit West Coast. We were so excited - could hardly stand it. We walked into this huge big arena, fairground type place, stages all over (probably three bands playing at once, on whichever stage suited their popularity, from large to small). Tyler, of course, was with a smaller band, new to this venue, so they were on a small stage, but it was exciting nonetheless. They played and we got to spend some time with them, hanging by watching them get their picture taken and giving autograph (you know, all that "star" stuff:) We had gotten a hotel room with my free hotel points, and the guys were pretty much poor and staying in their van or just wherever they could stay, so we offered to let them stay with us the second night. We really hadn't gotten to talk to them or get to know them at all, and I was just trusting that this was a Christian band and they had to be great guys, probably grown up just like my kids.
On the second day there, they had some free time, so I volunteered to take everyone to a movie and just have a little down time, so off we went to the movie. Coming out of the movie, the lead singer and lead of the band says, "Come on, let's get the 'F' out of here!" Mind you, he didn't say the actual word, but he sure made me think it! What in the world? I was reeling, thinking I had to have heard wrong, thinking there was no way this "Christian band leader" talked like that.
The evening goes on, and as we’re in the motel room, one of the band guys gets frustrated by something he was working on and very angrily says, “Jesus Christ!” We’re not talking in a prayerful way, in a respectful way, I’m talking cursing, using the name of our Savior as a curse word. I literally thought I was going to vomit. I look across the room at my son, and in that universal parent/child unspoken language, he telepaths, “Please, Mom, please, please don’t say anything.” He knows me, of course, and he knows that the first thing I’m thinking is, “Are you kidding me? You are a representative of a Christian band and you are sitting here cursing in the worst way possible, the way even the TEN COMMANDMENTS preaches against?”
I looked back at him and let him know I realized the position he was in, that he had to stay with these people, he was having to work through this, and I did not need to cause him trouble. There were other issues that were huge concerns, issues with how bands are with young girls and improper things going down, not just the language, but that’s what hit me like a punch in the gut, the fact that they’d do it even in front of me. Wow.
We got through the evening and went to bed. Molli and I were to leave at like 4:00 a.m. to make our flight, so we were sleeping in our clothes, just going to slip out of the hotel room early as with all seven of us in there, you could not even walk to go to the restroom. I lay there on the bed praying, my mind going a million directions – “What is this, God, what is this? Was it a call from you that brought him here? What if it wasn’t? What is your plan? Where is this going? Are we heading for disaster? What if Tyler thinks this is the way to live a Christian life, what if he becomes one of them? Oh, God, protect him, help him know that hypocrisy is one of the worst of our sins, help him to stay right even when he’s stuck…..oh God, oh God……” Those of you who are parents have been there, those prayers that are more a groaning of the spirit than they are words. The words won’t come because you don’t even know which direction to pray.
Molli and I got up at the appointed time, we quietly got into our rental car, drove to the airport, neither of us saying a word. We checked in, waited, got on our flight, and it wasn’t for probably another hour before we even spoke. I looked at her and I teared up and I said, “I’m so disappointed.” She said, “I knew you would be. We hoped you wouldn’t see.” I said, “You mean you knew?” She said, “Yeah, Ty had told me. We just hoped they’d keep the pretense up around you so you wouldn’t worry.” I was sick, just sick. What had I done? I’d spent 18 years trying to teach this child how a relationship with Jesus helped you to live, the strength it gave you, the ability to not conform under peer pressure, the ability to stand firm when you needed to, and how I’ve turned him over to these hypocrites, these “Christian leaders” whose life was a lie, whose very witness was a joke, a mockery of what Jesus died for.
I truly have never prayed for Ty more than those months he was gone. He had been our easy kid, truly, and never required those desperate parental prayers but a few times. I just couldn’t bear to think that he would become like them. I couldn’t talk to him because they were always with him, so I could never reassure myself of how it was going. I sent him texts that were, “Please promise me you’re not becoming,” and that was all I said – he knew what I meant. I’d get back, “Mom, I’m fine, I’m not.” I just had to trust – trust God who I still believe gave us that call in the night, that call out of the midst of all the fighting and anger – trust God that He had His hands on him, and mine needed to come off.
He got to come home about a month after he left, and we get into this discussion about the language and all the things I’d seen. He tells us that they ate with several BIG bands that they were playing alongside, and they were just the same. These were bands I had CDs of and had paid big money to go to their concerts. He ends up saying, “You know, it’s just a different culture.” I’m like “What are you talking about? Culture has nothing to do with it.” He says, “Yeah, we were staying with this host family in California, and one of the teenagers of that house cussed right at the dinner table and no one even seemed to notice, it’s just a cultural thing.” Tom literally screams, “Tyler, that is B.S., total B.S.” I’m like “Oh, nice choice of words, Tom, really good choice there.” We kind of laughed with all the tension in the room, but we still tease Tom about it.
The end result was this: They spent about six months on tour. They got to play all these cool places, alongside huge bands, they got a clothing sponsor and Tyler got free clear drums that he had dreamed of since he was about 12. They made NO money, played gig after gig, night after night, and since he was the low man on the totem pole, guess who got to do a lot of the driving all through the night? And guess who got to do a majority of the setup and teardown and running of sound for the other bands? And once they realized this 18-year-old could back a trailer and be a mechanic, he got other duties. Am I complaining? Absolutely not. These are the realities of what “being on tour” looks like!
It’s every musician’s dream to “be on tour.” Being on tour is torture, pure torture. You work too much, sleep too little, you’re stuck in a van with a ton of other people, some of which you cannot stand. You never see your family and you never are “off” to relax on your own or have a little privacy. My son would have NEVER accepted all the things he learned while on tour if we had just told him the way it was. He knew everything and you couldn’t tell him anything. Only a life experience like this could teach him what he needed to see. Tom had encouraged me to give him five years to pursue the music dream, but I am so so, so grateful that God gave it to him and let him get sick of it in less than a year.
He was so burnt out when he returned that he sold the clear drums and began to pursue entirely different dreams. That did bother me, and I am thrilled to say that he’s picked the drumsticks back up again and is the drummer for our church and is so faithful with his talent. I am amazed that you could go almost four years and not play and then just pick it right back up. God is good that way – He always equips us for what He calls us to…..
I wonder what had happened had we forced him to Belmont – we would have paid a fortune for an education to be a music recording major right at about the time that everyone is figuring out you can record your own music on an iPad that’s just as good? Yikes. And would he be married to Molli today? She is such a great wife, such an incredible partner to him, such an addition to our family, such a servant of God, I cannot imagine our lives without her. Tyler ended up joining my firm as a videographer, running audio and still having that artistic bent, all the while making biodiesel and tearing engines apart. He proclaimed to me the other day that his children will not go to college, because all these college graduates cannot find a job and he believes if you’re willing to work hard, you can make it in this life without a college degree. I agree to an extent with him, but as I said earlier, sometimes you can’t tell him anything, so I’m sure this will be a continuing discussion…..
And what is the lesson for today? I believe the lesson is that God will reach down into your life, He will give you the desires of your heart, He will walk by your side when those desires turn into misery, He will pick you up on the other side of that lesson you needed to learn, and He will still be God.
But the lesson also is that the book of James is right, how we handle our tongue is a great reflection on how we handle our Savior. Does He control your tongue, or does your mouth give the devil more advertisement than the Lord? The scripture in Luke is truly spot-on that says “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart, the mouth speaks.” Our mouth will give us away every time. I pray God begins to pour into you words of encouragement, words of hope, words of His love and His presence so that others around you may see who and what God truly can be – He is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega…..oh, so thankful to know that no matter where I am or who I'm surrounded by, He is in control – praise His name!
My name is Teresa Evans. I am a wife to Tom, a retired Circuit Judge, and I am a court reporter by trade, a mother by God's grace and a lover of Jesus Christ. I've grown up in a family blessed with many miracles, and have received multiple miracles myself.