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November 8, 2021 7:00 am
Baby and a mom's womb has no idea that it's 2 inches away from another reality bigger than what is currently experiencing.
Anthony Evans Junior reflects on the profound truth to realize processing the loss of his mother. This rumor is comfortable and goes over 2 inches away from experiencing a whole other thing that is so much bigger than where we are right now celebrating faithfulness.
This is the alternative Dr. Tony Evans, author, speaker, senior pastor of Oakland Bible Fellowship Dallas, Texas and president of the alternative, everyone goes through times when it seems like life makes no sense when we question God, and wonder what in the world he's doing and why so many bad things are happening to us and to those around us. Dr. Evans and his immediate family have recently found themselves wrestling with those same questions they've gone through the tumultuous experience of personally confronting cancer and other challenging medical situations while also losing eight loved ones in less than two years time, including the devastating passing of Lois Evans on the final day of 2019.
One of her desires was for the family to work on a collaborative project and they've done just that. Adding together a book focusing on how they process their own grief and loss. The questions they've asked the emotions they felt in the solutions and hope they found today the Evans family gathers to discuss the thoughts and struggles they experienced putting together their new book called divine disruption holding onto faith when life breaks your heart, let's listen in as Dr. Evans gets us started. This is the first.
This is the first time I have had all four of my children with me to share with you our friends. I have my oldest daughter Crystal. My second Priscilla my third Anthony Junior and the baby of the family and we are here for a very special reason because we been collaborating on a very special and very personal project is called divine disruption. When God intervenes in your affairs on life intervenes in human affairs and you need God in a whole another level, and I know many of you even coming to this season we've been through. Have I had to go through your share of those kinds of trials. This was the reality of life that we we face and that you face and that we all need to face together so I'm just glad to have all of you here and I guess a great opening question is just before we get into some of the specifics. As you look at the overall journey we been through what assembly halls reaction. Some of you just wrote feelings and thoughts about the pain of the problem that we have gone through some perspective that you one thing for me is just them. It's a lot of hurt and disappointment and I just felt disappointed in God specifically with with mommy but everything that has been going on. But honestly, mommy. The closest for me losing my mom and all of the all of the prayer all of that, you know, quoting God's word back in his face you know going back to your sermons and saying okay this is what dad said let's do it this way. This is what the word says you feel like you try to do everything right. You're trying to run the race as hard as you can for my mom, but also because you know wanting to see God display himself in a mighty way for testimony know a lot of people are afraid to admit that they can get emotionally disappointed with God all confused by God, I mean you know what Rebecca safe hello hello they don't do this, and while we doing this that many of questions in the Bible about how God is doing what he's doing why he's doing it how we got down and was it fair in all of the justice with God and those questions and sometimes you can't just wish away because they just come to your mind due to your circumstances.
That's why you have to have a faith deeper than your feelings because when you feel is take over.
They can make your faith lie out of the window. My perspective was the same as Jonathan's being the most emotional of the kids at the liberty that just right off the bat. On the one who feels the most.
I had to really learn how to hold on to my faith in a moment like that. We are believing what you've read your knowing that God can come through. He's deciding not to. Through all this. What I've experienced is God holding onto me in a way that I would have never experienced otherwise.
And I wouldn't want to go through this ever again. I want all of our family members back but if you read the instruction manual in your car and you hear about the safety features and how the seatbelts working on the airbags work. That's one thing but skating are slamming on the brakes are getting into a wreck and the seatbelt holding you back in airbags coming out and you realize you still went to the Rick what you realizing that that manual is actually performed the way that it said it was going to that's aware feel, guess I felt the seatbelt of his word, holding me in my seat when I could've gone flying through the windshield. I needed to feel that illustrate like that girls and I would echo exactly what Jonathan Anthony just said those are the two things that were coming to my mind the first thing was that you can ask your questions without questioning the character of God and so I appreciate that Job or Habakkuk, we can look at them and see that God allowed them to to ponder and to wonder into express discouragement and you don't find a God who condemns them for those questions, but rather he meets them where they are and he reminds them I'm still I'm still not do it. I said I was there do so.
I'm I felt throughout this very grateful for God lets us human. He knows where human. The flipside of that is like Anthony said, I have never seen such tangible proof of the Holy Spirit's presence as I have in the past couple of years. So for those who don't know, we've literally lost including my mother-in-law who passed away six months after mom. We lost eight family members.
Eight and it was like back to back staff that just Happening and so of course when you express John. John is true like of course were going to say God what what is this but in the flipside is you look back and go. How are we able to still have moments of levity and that or get a good night sleep or hold down in our stomachs each day after your dad preaching on Sundays were still parenting our kids. You getting up out of bed and put in close on. There are some people who don't know the hope that Jesus offers and the strengthening power of the Holy Spirit that one of the things that hit our family could hit them, and they can't function so apart from the Holy Spirit of God, strengthening us that's what that reminded me of that we can get up click close on sleep at night during the day. Parent their children and still put 1 foot in front of the other that was proof that the Holy Spirit is who he says that he has it in and that's the thing is that I had moments where I was discounting that you just know how you feel and what you're going through, but you're not thinking about even in that the spirit of God is holding you from drowning.
Think about it yet because all you thinking about is the moment what you're going through whose hurt, the pain that people say the one set of footprints in the sand is God carrying you yeah you know you made a great statement because a lot of people don't know the difference between asking God a question and questioning God yeah same thing.
If you conflate them to be the same thing you wind up feeling guilty about a legitimate question. It's okay to ask God why it's not okay to challenge God okay with the why not learning. That distinction is is very important that frees you up to be honest with God and not try to hide what's really going on inside which he already knows. Anyway yeah one of the ways that I had to learn how to experience God's mercy is to look for his mercy in unexpected places.
One of things I haven't really voiced that much is me asking God for mercy.
We went on a trip in August got a little place together and I prayed we prayed that communion together and I pray God show us mercy. I literally felt like somebody was like the game you play when little he was bending my wrist back and breaking my knuckles and I was like mercy mercy.
You never again.
I felt like that's what God was allowing to happen now in hindsight is much as I want our mother here if he was going to choose to take her home. She did, I found mercy and the fact that he took her before the pandemic. It that's finding mercy in a crevice like you if you have to look that hard finding it under a rock.
Those moments and and the piece that he gave me because I'm the one who give up hope real quick. Those his mercy, and I found it in in very unique places and I think a lot of times when you're trying to hold on to faith through disruptions. That's what you have to do that if you like your audience just because were here with with with everyone.
I feel like I would ask you is your son and as your kids how are you doing we we know Tony is the preacher can pull it together and give a sermon it at any time, but how are you doing I say on a scale from 1 to 10 asking this of scale from 1 to 10, how are you doing when you asked me because some days are good and strong, other days a week and dragging you know when you're those quiet moments when the house is quiet. Nobody is there to greet you nobody's and you know in the space that you use to. You can get. You can get a little down you can get what when you flooded with memories so people remind you, even when they give condolences the triggers that can take you from what you're focusing on their to the things that bring you memories or hurts all losses, all of that affects the number that I can I can do, but there's a roller coaster ride. You know, keep plowing forward.
But there are challenges and then their times of great memories and celebrations as well. I think what made that time remarkably difficult.
On top of the facts that we lost money and on top of the fact that there were multiple people in our family who passed away was that all of those people were connected to you. Did you personally feel like even though its life and losing your loved ones is a part of life did you feel ever.
Or do you even feel now that the way God allowed things to to play out was slightly unfair. You know, I did have a question. Why why this why now why this much, but I never questioned God at my biblical beliefs had to kick in particular. Isaiah 40 when they were asking for no this is not fair and Isaiah 40 where is the justice do me, and then God says okay you got a look at me as if you look at your circumstances on the everlasting God and the creator you got to look me for new strength because problem with the question why is it often doesn't get an answer in your eyes. Are you saying that that the question yeah yeah yeah I can answer the question why this why this now why there wasn't a supernatural healing when there were things that indicated when we talk about the doctor. We met at the right time. We talk about this new medication that it come out additional treatment when we we talk about all of these details the it's staggering to think that it wasn't going to be reversed. I had to appeal to what I knew to be true about God while still asking questions along the way, Dr. Evans, sharing some of the struggle he's faced with reconciling his desires with God's will, following the recent passing of his wife Lois will rejoin the Evans family for more of the reflections in just a moment now to project it pulled everyone together today is a collaborative book they've written that explores the raw emotions they felt in the tough questions they asked following Lois's death in it.
They discuss ways to keep your faith from crumbling and to keep moving forward.
When grief and pain make it hard to even breathe is called divine disruption. Holding onto face when life breaks your heart and would like to send you a copy as our thank you gift when you make a contribution to help us keep Tony's teaching on the station along with it will send you CDs for access to digital downloads of all seven parts of our current living with loss series, including today's roundtable conversation with the Evans family. Both of these resources are yours with our thanks when you make a donation firstname.lastname@example.org or call our resource Center, day or night at 1-800-800-3222 that's 1-800-800-3222 will return to today's conversation right after this never traveled 300 miles from the place he was going to change the sound more signs have been written about him than any other person in the well is branding found during Dr. Evans and family to the holy land and exploits Esplanade Jesus Christ so remarkable and sell impact this feature-length film is coming to select to visit Tony heaven's.org to learn more and find out where it will be selling you the window between my father passing my wife passing was a gap between those I was flying to Baltimore to care for my father flying back here with the force helping me to care for your mom. But two things help me within that my father strong faith and your mom strong. Yes it definitely was, was the most trying time, instill repercussions of that time. Continue but I'm boasted them in your mom's challenged me to keep preaching the word. In spite of the illness she was going through.
It was it was a very spiritual time in a very painful situation one of the very unique things about this this project in this book is that you've had five been perspective from a nuclear family so since were here I would love to hear how you the byline of his book is holding onto faith in life is both broken your heart.
What are the ways specific to you.
John things were all for so different that you have held onto faith, in spite of all the laws I love disco around here.
It's the faith of my family that I come from having daddy and mommy teaching the whole life and then having you my siblings being able to share how you feel but your faith and hope through it all has really helped Gerd me up because I didn't have to go through it and do it by myself. I think mommy's funeral was a big deal.
The celebration of her life in her going home to be with the Lord was done well and it was well attended in person and online. And I say that because as beautiful as mommy was in his much pride as she took in her appearance and how she showed up anywhere she said it look like $1 million through.
She made it her business to do a lot of foundational work in a lot of places. She was very intentional in supporting daddy and ministry and then also supporting us. I think about the fact that across the mantle in our home was a big deal to her. Something from each one of us up on the mantle and so to have the opportunity to celebrate her life. Well, to me, matched how well she lived her life and I say all that because holding onto faith is the idea that this is not all there is hundred percent and then afterward gone. There is more celebration. There is more to be celebrated.
There are ripple effects that will go on from generation to generation. So her example makes me remember that the feeling of right now is no match for the celebration of the decisions that you make and the outcome. The ripple effects of those decisions over the lifetime I think for me, holding onto faith is meant even when I can't see what the ripple effect is what the celebration is what the outcome is what the trophies are that the faithfulness when you can't see is what counts.
I think for me, holding onto hope. What encouraged me most, and that is my children. I realize as a child of mom and dad that the way I watch them walk through our whole lives with a commitment to consistency and integrity. They were different people at church than they were home. I want to have that same impact on my kids.
I want them to know that the same God had been telling them about teaching them about rearing them to honor that.
If I trust him when everything was good. I want them to be able to say, and let me tell you grandchildren of Purcell is that your grandmother still honor God even when stuff was really hard while comfort for me. I had to come to a pivotal point in my life and in my faith where I had to ask myself, do you believe what you say you believe or not I got that far yet because it being on a stage and singing is one thought, but just in general and ask myself, do you believe what you're singing or not.
When I made that decision and said yes I do believe this. I believe a guy can hold me through this that I had to start acting like I believe what I'm saying, so if she's fine and she's enjoying enjoying the presence of Jesus and and and and were not far from her.
I really look this is don't want to talk too much to know people want to hear you talk that he never let you have my name hello and I'm the only one I really do believe our experience, like a baby and a mom's womb has no idea that it is comfortable and cozy and has no idea that it's 2 inches away from another reality that so much bigger than what is currently experiencing mommy has gone on to that new reality and I feel like yeah our world. This rover is comfortable and cozy but were 2 inches away from experiencing a whole other thing that is so much bigger than where we are right now and when I think about us being in the womb of earth to be in cozy but what God's intention for assistance to be on this other side is so much more trust and it just 2 inches away like right do this is his whole other experience in mom is there and it's that close. I feel like when I decided to believe, but I believe I know that my mom is close yeah I know, and I feel and experience are close in that as how I've held onto hope that's God's mercy because I was the one to be like. I am done now yeah yeah yeah but this experience in faithfulness has taken a load off in so many different areas because I just decided I believe and not just Anthony Evans Junior along with his brothers, sisters and father sharing their personal reflections processing the recent profound losses in their lives. Priscilla and Dr. Evans will share one final thought with us when we return to their conversation just a moment before we do that I wanted to let you know that for the purposes of time we had to edit out a portion of today's discussion.
If you'd like to hear the entire conversation. The full-length version is available as a part of our current seven part series living with loss. As I mentioned earlier, the entire series is yours with our thanks, along with the divine disruption book you been hearing about today. When you make a contribution to keep this listener supported ministry coming your way. Just visit Tony Evans.org or you can make a donation request still living with loss package and instantly download the messages from this series also of course get them on CD. If more convenient again.
Just visit Tony Avenue and is.org to find out more or give us a call anytime of the day or night at 1-800-800-3222 where one of our helpful team members is ready to assist with your request. Again, that's 1-800-800-3222 well tomorrow will continue or look into grief and living with loss as we participate in another Evans family discussion, this one recorded just a single day after the sudden and tragic loss of a young mother and much love family member winter pits right now though Priscilla is back with this recollection, there is this moment. We were all around mom or in their bedroom. It was clear that these were to be her last couple of hours and there we were just the six of us.
Mom was land in my lap.
Anthony is on one psychosis on-site and dad's laying right next her her and were all around her like a cocoon and I looked over at dad and that you are rubbing mommy's hand.
She wasn't conscious at this point you're rubbing her hand. We were playing worship music and you are reading Psalm 91 you were just reading you want talking you weren't trying to help every body you weren't angry you were just reading Psalm 91. Sometimes you just go I'm going to honor God in this moment I don't know what that looks like.
I don't know why this is happening.
But what can I do in this moment to just release it to God and then trust him. You literally at that point realized I cannot do anything else. And so all you did was open up the Bible and start reading Psalm 91. The toughest thing I had to make in that moment was to say no, not my will but thy will be done thing to say yeah when the will is not what you want certain things God is going Duke is God's will and do it in no condition side to unconditional within a certain things that a conditional he will only do it when we've done our part. Prayer obedience whatever this God took this out of our hands. We have prayed been to the doctor.
We tried every new medication.
There was no stone to our knowledge unturned and she had to be the most prayed for woman in America at that were going so everything that could be done to our knowledge was done so I had to resolve to the fact that this was God's unconditional will of work. It was conditional. We met with extra credit.
So this was his unconditional will and we had to resolve ourselves to that and still pray and pray and trust God in spite of the alternative with Dr. Tony Avenue celebrating 40 years of faithfulness, thanks to the generous contribution