WHETHER it’s friends, preachers or artists, I’ve found a helpful gauge on who’s advice to listen to: “By their fruits you will know them”. It’s Jesus’s words in Matthew 7.
TobyMac is one of those people for me. He’s one of those guys I’d love to live with for a week. Family man, band leader, record label owner and an artist who has seen almost four decades in the industry, he seems like one of those cats who has become wise through the journey. His tunes are upbeat and rocking and are the perfect companion for a workout music playlist.
When we moved into our first house, we created a custom wall tattoo that read: “Love is in the house and the house is packed”.
It’s a line off one of the songs from his debut solo record. I like this for two reasons:
- The words were sprawled across the wall right near our dinner table every night as a family, as a reminder of the truth we aspire to live by as a family and in our home: hospitality and unconditional love go hand in hand.
- Toby practices what he preaches: every night, he too sits down at the dinner table with his family and they talk about each of the days. It’s a lost art in modern life, but in the McKeehan and Calder household, it’s a habit.
I like his songs, his music, how it’s evolved and the fact that it’s uniquely him. I’ve raised my children on this music – not because I like it’s diversity in rhythms and influences from it’s hip-hop base – but primarily because it’s scripture. Many of the songs carry the gospel truth in the lyrics, and I’ve watched as my kids sing these sings at the start of their day, and how it lifts their gaze heavenward right from the sunrise.
There’s much I could say beyond this, but I’d like to talk about something that gave me huge courage this week.
Toby’s oldest son, Truett, who has featured prominently on all of his solo records, died unexpectedly on Wednesday 23 October 2019 at the age of 21. No matter what your outlook on life and the afterlife, I’m pretty sure everyone reading this blog would agree: no parent should have to eulogize their own child.
I have spent time with two families over the past three months who have lost children. It is the most brutal thing to observe on every level, let alone go through. I have no words for those parents and families.
In his own memoir of his son, Toby ends off an emotionally moving tribute to Truett by saying this:
“My wife and I would want the world to know this…
We don’t follow God because we have some sort of under-the-table deal with Him, like, we’ll follow you if you bless us. We follow God because we love Him. It’s our honor.
He is the God of the hills and the valleys.
And He is beautiful above all things.“
In my own life and my own quiet walk, I aspire to have faith and conviction like that.