I sat outside at a drive-in theater in East Tennessee Saturday night as the sun set and the temperature began to get cooler. I pulled out a blanket and settled into the outdoor chair I brought with me.
TobyMac, my favorite Christian artist, and the amazing Diverse City Band came out on the small stage set up in front of the big outdoor drive-in theater screen. A swing set and other outdoor children playground equipment was between the theater screen and small stage.
As the sky got darker, the stage lights came on, the horns began to play and TobyMac was on the stage. The familiar strains of “Light Shine Bright” began to play and the show was on. “Lights shine bright everywhere we go. Music for the people, makin’ music for the people. Lights shine bright everywhere we go. Lights shine bright everywhere we go. Everywhere we go, music for the people, makin’ music for the people.”
It was on. TobyMac was back on the stage he loves making music for the people who love him. It was the first concert I had been to in 2020. The first time I was hearing live music during this crazy year where normal has taken on an entirely new meaning. It has been such a hard year for me but as the concert started I could not help but think about what it must have been like for TobyMac, who lost his son and sister during this past year.
As he came on stage and started to sing the songs I love, I thought about him bringing love to so many people with all he is going through, and the tears silently began to fall down my face. What a testimony to his faith that he can share during such a dark time.
“I can promise you this,” Toby said to the crowd at the drive-in theater in Athens, Tenn., “We are so thankful to be doing live music. We are going to give you all that we have.”
“See the Light” is one of my favorite TobyMac songs as he encourages us that, “We will see the light” no matter how hard the battle.
During this song, TobyMac addressed what is going on in his life.
“I can’t act like everything is OK with me right now,” he said. “It has been the hardest year of my life by far. I know we are all facing things now. I will not build on the sand. I will build on the rock. I will not build on being a victim. We will build on the rock. We will build on the rock in this season of life. I lost my son 11 months ago. I lost my sister 4 weeks ago. We will build on the rock! I will not build on the sand!”
This was so powerful and encouraging because it is a time when many of us are suffering and feeling like victims. How empowering to lean on our faith and to remember not to stand on the sand. Stand on the rock, like TobyMac says. Do not be a victim. I will stand on the rock, in my life. I will not stand on the sand. I will not be a victim.
Another moment that really made me stop and think about life is when TobyMac shared that there are two ways to think about your life. He says you can take the passive/jaded approach and sit back on the chair, roll your eyes and think about what you HAVE to do every day. The second approach is to sit on the edge of the chair, with your eyes open and think about what God is going to LET you do every day.
“Get on the edge of the seat,” he said. “Ask, ‘Lord, what do you have for me. Open your eyes to the possibilities. Open your eyes to the brand new possibilities. Get me on the edge of my seat. Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord, for the possibilities.”
TobyMac also shared his favorite Bible verse: Isaiah 43:19 “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” This is certainly encouraging to someone scared about making a major change and I am going to hold it close in the days to come.
TobyMac also shared the differences for him during his drive-in theater tour as he has been hitting the road stopping in small towns instead of the big towns and huge arena tours.
“It’s been a long run of playing arenas,” he said, “but since coming to these small towns, I can say those bit cities haven’t got anything on y’all.”
He shared how at one stop he opened the door and walked off the bus one morning and a small man was standing at the door. He said he looked at him and said, “Hey! TobyMac, Are you going to play my favorite song tonight!.” Toby said he asked the guy how he got into the drive-in and he said, “I just walked in.” He asked the man his favorite song and he said, “Funky Jesus Music.” Toby said he hadn’t sang that one in a while and wasn’t sure that he and the band even remembered it. They didn’t do it that night but they have done it every night since.
Any time you can see TobyMac and the Diverse City Band in concert, please go. I’ve seen them in big arenas and now in a small drive-in. Both are great experiences. It’s more than a concert. It’s a time to share in your faith. It’s a time to think about your life and reflect. I know that I did.