Glenda cared for her ailing mother for years, and every day they had a special routine. When I would come home in the evening after work, I would often go through the high points of the day, and one of those high points would be what I'd heard on Focus on the Family and the Rich teaching and the encouragement. Today, Glenda shares that same encouragement with others. I'm excited to point anyone that's struggling to focus on the family.
I find that focus teaches me, and it comforts me, and it inspires me, and it pulls me up when things are really hard. I'm Jim Daly. Help us support more families like Glenda's.
Become a monthly giver at FocusOnTheFamily.com slash family. It's been a hard year. It almost took me down. But when my world broke into pieces, you were there faithfully. When I cried out to you, Jesus, you made a way for me.
I may never be the same man, but I'm a man who still believes. When I cried out to you, Jesus, you were there faithfully. That's Toby Mack, and he's our guest today on Focus on the Family, sharing how he's experienced the hope and goodness of Christ, even through tragedy. Thanks for joining us today. Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. What you're about to hear was recorded before a live audience, a group of men in Florida, and our special guest was Toby Mack.
Let's go ahead and join Jim Daly with that conversation. John, God doesn't promise us an easy road in this life. I mean, many people know my story. All of us have some pain at some level, and, you know, we go through sorrow. We go through loss. And he does provide comfort and peace. Sometimes you don't see it. I love that great verse in Romans 8-28 that all things work for good to those who love the Lord and are called by his name.
But sometimes it's so cloudy, you can't feel that. Even as a believer, you can't feel that. I think David, King David, like maybe Toby Mack here, our guest, has poured his heart out to God in his music after the loss of his eldest son. And today we're going to talk to Toby about that experience because he, too, lost his eldest son.
And I want people to lean into this because, although it's painful, it does have such redemption to trust the Lord, love the Lord, and move forward. Yeah, Toby Mack is a contemporary Christian artist. He's a singer, a rapper, a songwriter, former member of the hit band DC Talk. My goodness, he's won seven Grammy Awards. He's produced six gold records. He was twice named Artist of the Year at the Dove Awards, and we could go on with his list of accomplishments.
His new album, which does reveal his great loss, but also his hope in Christ, is called Life After Death. And we're looking forward to hearing more in this conversation. Toby, welcome to Focus.
Thank you. Let's get to the core of it. Your Christian faith.
I mean, in the music industry, it's so hard to maintain that. Speak to becoming a Christian, and how did you keep your focus on the right things when you were a superstar? Well, I don't know about a superstar, but I know that I fell in love with Jesus at 13 years old at a small camp. And a youth pastor sat on the floor after everything went on in this little cabin and opened up God's word. And for the first time, it spoke to me. And I just remember we got up off the floor that night, and I got in my bunk, and I zipped my sleeping bag to the top. And my heart was racing because I knew I needed to do something about what I felt. I laid there for probably 15 or 20 minutes before I just couldn't take it anymore. I unzipped the bag, walked in the other room, and asked that youth pastor if he would introduce me to the King Jesus. And that's where it happened. And from then, lots of things happened, and I do think music was something that came late for me.
I played college golf for four years. I met a guy named Michael Tate, who I did DC Talk with and is now the singer of the News Boys. He was doing music, and he was singing these really conservative songs. And I'm like, wait, that's not what you listen to. Why don't you sing what we listen to? And he's like, oh, we can't do that. And I'm like, yes, we can.
So I started writing these songs where I rapped the verses and he sang the choruses, which, for most people, that was a mind twist because the white guy was rapping, the black guy was singing. But I'm not stereotyping here. I'm just saying most people say that. But, yeah, I mean, for me, it hasn't been a struggle. I never wanted to be on stage. It's nothing I long for. I wasn't the six-year-old that, I want to do that one day.
I would think for that person it would be harder because it's their dream coming true. But for me, honestly, I've always relied on this simple fact. I'm a servant. I'm a servant of the King. And as a servant, my job is to wait. I wait on the request of my Lord, and then I move.
Man, that's something, huh? Let's turn to your family. Describe your family. We were talking about our wives, your wife Amanda and my wife Jean. It's like they may have come from daughters of a different mother.
Yeah, it does. Very similar women, but describe Amanda. Amanda is born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. A tough woman, not easy to slide one past.
It's just not, it's not, we're blessed. That's the similar part. Anybody with a little bit of platform or success, we need somebody to tell us the truth about ourselves. And Amanda is really good at that.
She lets me know when I'm making a mistake or when I'm, you know, when I didn't give my best effort or I shortchanged a song that could have been deeper or more poignant. So let's move with the family. Describe your family, you and Amanda. You're a family of five kids, right? Yeah.
So get to it. What are the kids? Truett, who passed three years ago at 21 years old, was our firstborn. And we prayed and prayed and prayed for him. And I couldn't believe it when I had a baby boy, you know.
It was just really amazing, really special. And we had Moses and Marley, boy, girl, and they're now 20. Moses has a muscular dystrophy. We didn't know it when we adopted them.
I'm not that much of a saint, but for the people that are, thank you. Moses hasn't walked since he was seven years old. He's been in a wheelchair.
He's an amazing kid. Marley is doing well. She's in Asheville, North Carolina.
She's living a life there, doing what she does. And then in most cases, right after we adopt these twins, we get pregnant with two boys in a row. Boom, boom. One of them is named Leo. He's sitting in front of you. He's 18 years old now. And then we had Judah a year and a half after Leo. And then going back to Truett, let's set that up in terms of where things are at, what he was doing, how proud you were of him, and he was trying to follow in your footsteps, right?
Yeah, I mean, Truett is electric, you know. He's a young man that lights up a room, makes everybody feel alive. He always, always was, loves to walk in and make you feel, and he also makes you feel loved. He loved music, started maybe at 11 or 12, set up a little studio for him in the basement and was getting better and better and better at it.
You know, special young man through and through, and loved Jesus, loved his word. Truett's last text to me, I was in Canada on tour, and he did his first concert. I pushed back a Canadian flight because I was going to do a tour in Canada to make the concert, and I was so grateful that I did. It's the last time I saw my son at that show, and I gave him a hug, and I said, I'm proud of you, boy. Truett was the opening act of that show. After the show, I said goodbye to him, and him and all his friends were all out in front of the theater.
The closing act was just going on, and pretty much the whole theater emptied. So the headline band, there was no one in there, and I said, Truett, remember, he's playing, and Truett's like, everybody back inside, we're going to support this guy, let's go. So I sent him a text the next day, and he asked, I'm so proud of you for how well this show went, but I'm more proud of you for how you love someone well, the closing act, how you went out of your way to go support him. And his last text to me was, Dad, thank you, I love you, you've always made me feel like a superhero. That's the last text my son sent me. And then let me tell you about my wife's last text.
This one will tell you exactly, between these two things, you'll know him. His last text sent my wife was a verse in Psalms, and he said, he sent my wife the verse, and he said, Mom, is God tickling me? And I just thought, that is Truett. Truett's intimate. He's intimate with me, and he's intimate with God. For him to think, you think he didn't have a relationship with the king if he thought he was tickling him?
He knew he had a relationship with the king. Yet, I mean, in terms of the circumstances, you know, there were things that happened there. Accidental overdose. Speak to that whole situation. What happened, the call that you got, how did that news come to you? What took place? The news came to me in Canada.
My wife was in the Nashville Women's Jail, ministering that she did it four days a week at that time. And it's just heartbreaking, man. And one of my best friends, Gabe, was on the road with me, and he said, I need to talk to you. And he walked me into the back lounge of the bus and told me.
And I just fell and just kept saying, are you sure, are you sure, are you sure? Yet, you know, Truett, I'm not trying to give anything a bad rap here at all, but Truett really started with taking some attention prescription drugs for his attention disorder. And then he found out that really worked in the studio really well. So he started kind of taking this attention prescribed drug when he was working on songs, and he found out he could like rapidly move songs along, his focus intensified. But he was struggling to fall asleep, and he started with, you know, just borrowing some friends' Xanax that have prescriptions. He told me a few times that he was borrowing Xanax from friends, but I didn't know it had gotten to the point where it was where he actually bought what he thought was an OxyContin off the streets, and he met somebody actually at a Topgolf in the parking lot, and he bought him, and it took him out immediately ten times the lethal dose of fentanyl. So Truett had never been to rehab or detox.
It wasn't that far along. This was like the first time he had bought something. I have his phone. I've looked at his texts.
It's the first time he had bought something non-prescribed. So, you know, it's hard, man. It's hard to imagine how many times people have gone to rehab, ten times, eight times, six times, and my son makes a mistake once and he's gone. It's hard. It's really hard, and I have to really stay tight with God to not build on things I shouldn't be building on. Well, and Toby, first of all, thank you for sharing something that's so devastating, obviously, and yet at the same time when you're in that spot, how did you and Amanda and the rest of the family, how did you start to process this? I mean, is God a good God?
All those questions that are, you know, hard to ask, but people in that situation, they do shake a fist at God and say, Why did you let this happen? Yeah, absolutely. I had moments of that for sure. Amanda probably had more than me. I've always been a guy that I just like, you know, I trust you, King.
I trust you. I had to walk through some of that, you know, some of the things where I was like, I'm upset, like I'm really angry right now, and Amanda definitely, here's the beautiful thing about having community, and we all need community. We have an extraordinary community in Franklin, Tennessee, people that love us, diverse, different races, different denominations, people that just love us. I walked into a house full of people.
At first, it's the last thing I wanted to see. I wanted them to all leave my house, but I walked into a house full of people. Some people were playing piano, just playing worship songs and letting them echo through the halls of our home. Other people were just sitting with my wife.
Other people, Leo and some friends were over. We didn't have much of a choice but to be confronted with the love of people and the love of community and the love of a community that loves the King. I'm not saying we haven't had our hard moments, but just that worship music being played, and it just, it was confronted. You know, it just confronted us.
Totally. And we were either gonna fall at the feet of the King or run a million miles away from him, and thank God he was kind enough. I know my personal story is I had decided a year and a half before True Past that I was gonna read the Bible in a year, and I don't know if you guys have ever tried that, but I didn't make it. It was, I said, that's why I said, so I finished, believe it or not, I'm in Revelation 21. I have one chapter left. But a year and a half before True Past, we're talking about two and a half years for me to get through the Bible. I will tell you this.
God is very precise with what he does. I started reading the Bible, and I looked, I opened up my Bible a few days after True Past, and I'm like, I just can't. I just can't continue on with this. But something just moved me, and I'm like, I'm gonna try. And I kind of looked at God, and I said, I'm gonna give you a chance. I'm gonna give you a chance to make this okay.
It'll never be really okay, but I'm gonna give you a chance. And I just continued reading the Bible, and I can just tell you this, man. Reading the Bible cover to cover has changed my life. I've gotten to know God in ways that I never knew him before, and I've been a Christian since I was 13. He's just shown me different facets of him, and he's taught me that he's really shown me that he's kind. He's kind. Well, I love the verse, and I say it often, that he's close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit, and I appreciate that. When you look at the journey that you've been on for the last three years, do you feel like you and Amanda are closer to God, even going through tragedy? It sounds like you are.
I can't speak for Amanda, because, I mean, she was already so close. I know I am. I know for a fact I know God like I've never known him before. And, I mean, you have to remember when Truett first passed, I was like, I'll never write another song.
I mean, why would I? That's how I felt. But then I wanted to honor him, so I went back in the studio maybe a week later, and I wrote a song called 21 Years to honor his life and to thank God for the 21 years he gave me with my son. Yeah. And then I thought, well, surely that's it.
I'm done. 21 years makes a man full grown. 21 years, what a beautiful loan.
21 years, I love everyone. Thank you, Lord, for my beautiful son. And then one of the guys that was playing piano at my house every day for a week, letting it wash over my family, I was talking to my daughter Marley, and I said, I mean, I thought, how can I connect with her? How can I help her through this grief? I try to do it differently with each child, and I thought Marley always says the piano sings.
She's never done anything. What if we wrote a song together? Would you like to write a song together about what we're going through, about the pain that we're experiencing, the grief?
And she said, yeah, I would, Dad. So one of those guys that was playing piano came over, John Reddick is his name, and played, and we wrote this song about Truett called Everything About You. So it really began as, like, I'm not going to be a professional artist anymore, but I'm going to honor my son and walk with my daughter through this.
And it turned into a whole record of songs called Life After Death. One of the songs is, I looked at my family during the service, and I said, listen, we have to rebuild. I didn't mean to say this, it wasn't part of the plan, but I said, we have to rebuild. And, you know, we're not going to build on what we built on before, because sometimes you're trying to walk with the king, but you start building on things that aren't right.
You know, there's a lot of successful men in this room and listening. We start building on these things. And I said, this is a chance for us to rebuild. We're not going to build on being victims. We're not going to build on prescription drugs, surely. We're not going to build on alcohol.
We're not going to build on financial success. We're going to build on the rock. And we got that chance to rebuild. The one thing, Toby, that we don't often grasp, you know, in those middle years particularly, whether you're 21, 41, 61, or 81, you're moving to that day. We're all going to get there. Truett got there early, but we're all going to get there. And that's something that's hard to even capture.
So then when you look at it in that context of what tomorrow is on the other side, the next life with God, maybe some of that sting is gone to understand that he's with the Lord, experiencing the fullness of God now. Absolutely. I mean, he beat you there. It's all that I count on. It's all that I count on. And the only dream I keep having and thought that rushes to my mind is Truett in all his excited nature going, Dad, if you only could see what I see, if you could only know what I know now, for me was Truett made for 21 years? Was he made for that from the beginning of time? And is that maybe something that God has asked of me? That's how I see it now.
And Amanda might see it a little differently than that, but that's how I see it. Did he see you from a long way off, running to him with a father's heart? Did you wrap him up inside your arms and let him know that he's home?
Well, there's so many parallels in life to what the Lord is showing us and how we experience him. Think of him as a father. Jesus was his son who died at 33. How that must have crushed his heart that that had to happen. He asked it of himself.
Our father asked it of himself. So with the kids now, the other side of this is how do you manage keeping the family moving in a good direction, Truett's brothers and sisters and trusting God? Are those discussions difficult to say you've got to keep trusting God?
We're so grateful. I mean, Leo's sitting here, so it's a little awkward, but I've just watched. You know, at first it was tough, and there was definitely some where they lashed out a little bit and got in trouble, but...
They were crying out for help too. But I could not be more proud of the way that their hearts have turned to God and their reaction. I mean, Leo's not even looking up right now because he doesn't want to look up, but I'm so proud of you, son, for the way you've reacted and the way your heart has stayed soft toward the king. That's good. That's good.
I hope you can take that, Leo, seriously. That's a father's heart for you. Let me move this a little broader for the closing time that we have together. There's going to be situations in this room. This is a room of about 60, 70 dads, most of them, and we don't know all their stories. It'll be different, maybe similar to your story where they lost a son, or it's a prodigal, son or daughter, maybe someone who's drug addicted, and all those things are going on in a lot of different ways. What advice going through this, and I know you're uncomfortable even giving it, but what would you say to someone who's thinking every night, I don't know where my son or my daughter, I don't know where they're at. Well, first of all, my heart breaks for them.
It's the hardest thing you could ever go through, your kids. We all know it, watching them. I don't really know.
I'm not like that. I don't think I have the answers, but I do know the king does. I do know our king offers his wisdom. He offers his advice and his comfort. He's listening to your prayers, and he'll never leave you. A friend of mine told me on a golf course, he said, Toby, and he lost his son, and he told me this before I had lost Truett. He said, Toby, first of all, me and my wife, we grieve differently.
He's the first person I called when I lost Truett. He said, just know you and your wife are going to grieve differently. He said, second of all, you've lost your boy, and you're going to start to reach up. If you will trust God, you're going to start to reach up and just try to grab onto some promise of God and just hold it near you, because it's all you can do. He said, but a lot of times we reach up and we grab onto something that we thought God promised us, but maybe he never promised us at all. He didn't promise us we wouldn't face loss or go through really painful things or hard things with our kids being away from us. He said, when you reach up and grab onto that promise, make sure it's something that he really promised, and that is that he will never leave us or forsake us.
That's his promise. So no matter what anybody's facing, that is what you can count on. That is the promise, and we're so grateful. Toby, thanks for talking with us tonight. Thanks for pouring out your heart and letting us really look at a very tender area, your life and Amanda's life, your family's life. I so appreciate it, and as John said and prayed before we started, just that the Lord would use this to touch a dad, to touch a mom, maybe to touch a prerogative child and have them reconcile. I just really appreciate your heart. Well, thank you for having me, and I do pray that God uses this moment to interact with someone in a beautiful way and just reach in to somebody's life.
Toby Mack, I mean this so sincerely with all the Grammys and everything else, but the key thing, follower of Jesus, thanks for modeling that and living it well. Thank you. Thank you, man. Thank you.
Thank you, guys. I want to welcome to Jesus you and their faithfully. When I cry out to you, Jesus, you made a way for me. I may never be the same man, but I'm a man who still believes.
When I cry out to you, Jesus, you and their faithfully. What a great heart-to-heart conversation with Toby Mack on today's episode of Focus on the Family, recorded in front of a group of men who were gathered in Florida. And, Jim, that was really inspiring. Yeah, John, I so appreciate Toby's heart, and I love his many references to serving the king, building a closer relationship to the Savior as the key both through the good and the tough times. And Toby's given us some great reminders about what matters most in life, and I want to encourage you to get Toby's new album from us on CD.
It's called Life After Death, music that was born out of his suffering and searching, but also which reveals his hope in Christ. I also want to ask you for your help. Focus is looking for 1,000 people to help save and strengthen families as part of our Friends of Focus on the Family program. By making a monthly pledge of any amount, you're helping to minister to and strengthen families in their time of need, just as Toby's family needed help. When you contact us, let us know you'd like to join the Friends of Focus on the Family program. And let me say thank you so much for pouring back into other people. Call to donate and request that Toby Mack album from us here at Focus. And if you need counseling, we have caring Christian counselors here. Reach out to schedule an appointment when you call 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459, or check the episode notes for the link. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family.
I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. I like to see her eyes light up and have her read some of the things to me. It's fun. Your child will love Focus on the Family Clubhouse and Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr. magazines. They're filled with fun activities, jokes, and faith-based stories that will capture your child's heart and imagination. It really is just a good age level for my kids, and that's exactly what I was looking for. And I'm so excited, too, that it just focuses on the life of my child. And that's exactly what I was looking for, and I'm so excited, too, that it just focuses on the Lord.
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