The Wind Beneath His Wings: Dr. Tony Evans on the Loss of His Dear Wife Lois (Transcript)

Dr. Dobson: Well, hello everyone. I'm James Dobson and you're listening to Family Talk, a listener supported ministry. In fact, thank you so much for being part of that support for James Dobson Family Institute.

Roger Marsh: When asked his thoughts about death, the late evangelist Dr. Billy Graham coined the idea of what he called "changing addresses." It's a simple yet profound idea. When a believer's time on earth is done, they are immediately ushered into the presence of Jesus Christ. It's a glorious reunion with the Lord, but of course for the loved ones left behind, grieving is a painful process that does in fact take time. Well today here on Family Talk, you're going to hear from a man who is currently walking through the valley of death's shadow. His name is Dr. Tony Evans. He's a respected pastor and Bible teacher and as you may be aware, Dr. Evans lost his wife Lois to cancer back in December of 2019. In just a moment, he will share with Dr. Tim Clinton how painful her absence truly has been these past couple of months, and yet despite that hurt, Dr. Evans will explain that the eternal hope that he has to be reunited with her once again is stronger than ever before.

Roger Marsh: Listen intently to this program here on Family Talk, as Dr. Tony Evans will offer some incredible insights into how we can have eternal perspective when death disrupts our life. It'll not be without pain or heartache of course, but we can choose to focus on the hope that only Jesus Christ can give. With all that said, let's get to today's edition of family talk right now. Here is Dr. Tim Clinton to further introduce our guest.

Dr. Clinton: Dr. Tony Evans is the founder and senior pastor to the over 9,500 member Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas. He's the founder and president of The Urban Alternative. He's chaplain of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks. He was the former chaplain of the Dallas Cowboys and the author of over a hundred books, booklets and Bible studies. Tony was the very first African-American to earn a doctorate in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He also holds the honor of writing and publishing the very first full Bible commentary and study Bible by an African-American. He's our guest today. He's gone through a tough season in his life and we're honored to have him.

Dr. Tony Evans: Always good to be here. Good to be with you and thank you for inviting me.

Dr. Clinton: We're honored with your presence. Dr Dobson wanted me to make sure and convey to you again that we love you and your family and we've been praying for and with you through this time in your life, this season.

Dr. Tony Evans: Well, it's definitely a different season that I'm going through that is deeper than any season I've ever been through, but God's grace is sufficient. Our eyes are on him and we're trusting him in the dark.

Dr. Clinton: Tony, I this morning got up early and I went downstairs by myself. No one was around and I pushed play and listened to your eulogy about your wonderful wife Lois, who Julie and I met and had her speak for us many times and loved her and love you all. But I tell you, it was a moment for me as I heard God minister through you, and I was so touched. Tony, let's go back. I want to ask you a lot about maybe some lessons you're learning about loss, what that's like, and some of the spiritual clarity maybe God's given to you as you look forward. You know that. But December 30th, I mean those moments, you knew it was coming. You talked about how she knew it was coming, but when it happens, you're still not really, really ready for it on a human level.

Dr. Tony Evans: Well, absolutely not. We were in this fight, the deep part of the fight for probably six months. It was a two year journey total, but the last six months was where it got really intense and difficult. We tried everything humanly possible to seek a solution, and everything humanly possible spiritually to seek for a solution. People praying around the world. We thought for a while that God was going to reverse the situation. There were some little things that happened that were very encouraging to us and there was an expectation. But as time went on, it became clear that things were not going to go that way and the shift took place. The shift took place from the hope of healing to the expectation of eternity. And that's a dynamic shift that occurs. It's an emotional shift personally in our human humanity, but also spiritually. But as that shift began to take place, Lois would talk about things that were heavenly focused. She would talk about seeing things in the spiritual realm. Her mother and father who are already in glory, she saw.

Dr. Clinton: I heard that. When you were talking about it, "Can't you see them? I mean, why can't you see them?"

Dr. Tony Evans: Yes, very clearheaded. She even said, as it got closer, "the voices are telling me it's almost time." And so it was a challenge to be able to see that shift, to be a part of it and to not want it. I guess one of the biggest things was when she said, "They're trying to give me an award." And I've got to pause right now because just talking about it is tough, but it made eternity real in the moment, it made eternity real in the moment because she was in that moment. And then of course the three toughest words was, "Let me go." And so that was tough, but we believed, we trusted, we were together as a family. That meant a lot. So when you ask me some of the lessons, I think I was reinforced that eternity's real. I was reinforced that life is short.

And I was also ... because somebody played, I preached a sermon on the inscrutability of God, When God Doesn't Make Sense, when he shocks you with what you don't want. We love to be shocked with what we do want, but when he shocks you with what you don't want and you still hold on to him as God. So our faith has not been shaken at all in terms of our confidence in God, in spite of the fact that he did not answer the prayer. Isaiah 40 talks about, you question, are you raising? It's okay to ask God questions as long as you don't question God, as long as you don't challenge him. But we did ask questions and he says that you have to retreat to what you know is true about God, even when the God you know about doesn't make sense.

And so, we retreat to that and we continue to retreat to that during this season of adjustments, day by day, moment by moment, hour by hour, but we're glad for the history of almost 50 years of marriage. We're glad for the great footprints, that I look at my life, my ministry, locally, nationally, the Bible, the commentary, study Bible, the commentary, all of those have Lois' footprints on them. So, there will be no part of my life where she will not be present because her footprints are there. And she defined the word "helpmate" on a whole lot of levels. So, there are lessons about life, there are lessons about death, there's lessons about grief. But there's also lessons about family because our family, immediate and extended and spiritual, we were surrounded by love and we were surrounded by prayer. We were surrounded by support and-

Dr. Clinton: Relationship is everything in those hours.

Dr. Tony Evans: Absolutely, yeah.

Dr. Clinton: Sometimes it's just presence. We don't have to say anything. You've just got to be there together.

Dr. Tony Evans: Yeah. And we had plenty of presence.

Dr. Clinton: I remember, Tony, when my mother was suddenly called to heaven and we had a journey with her. We didn't have but a few days with her. But she wound up taking a stroke and it wiped her out. And she's in this bed in Altoona, Pennsylvania and as a family, we finally gather, a very close family. I remember being around the bed holding hands with my dad, who had loved her so much. I remember, Tony, in that moment, he looked at all of us and it was time. And he said, "We need to let her go home." And I'm like, "Dad, don't say that. Don't say that. Because you're letting her go. We need to fight." "No, no, no," he said, "we need to let her go. It's time." And broken, but yet clinging on to that blessed hope. You know how it says that "we sorrow not as those who have no hope," but man, we sorrow.

Dr. Tony Evans: We do. We do. We do sorrow.

Dr. Clinton: Tony, as CS Lewis, in his book, A Grief Observed, said he got to a point where he couldn't even shave because it touched him so much. You know how much he believed, but he just struggled inside. What do you tell people about grief and sorrow for a moment?

Dr. Tony Evans: Well, first of all, I would say that you have to start with who God is because that will help you deal with what you're going through. If you live only with what you're going through and you're living in a realm of sadness, that will define your existence, and grief will become the dictator of your being when God, even in loss, wants to be the dictator of your emotions and of your wellbeing. So I invite people to join me and I join them in saying, "God, I don't understand. I don't even like it." You know Habakkuk, I talk a lot about Habakkuk because Habakkuk, there's three chapters. He had questions that weren't being answered. He asked "why, how long? What are you doing?" And then he says, in the last three verses, "Though there's no cattle in the stall and no figs on the tree, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation."

So, when God is silent, when grief is deep, when uncertainty abounds, you want to run, you want to speed to the God who is worthy of worship and praise. So, when Lois passed away on the 30th, we have a service every year on the 31st, our New Year's Eve service. She passed away on the 30th, but I knew she would be in worship on the 31st. So I went to worship with our family and we worshiped within our tears. I got up and shared. So sometimes you have to worship in tears. Sometimes you have to worship when you cry, but that's okay because you're worshiping. And in that environment you have invited God into your pain, as we like to invite him into our pleasure.

Dr. Clinton: Paul in 1 Thessalonians talked about that day, that glorious day, the day my dad told me about right before he died. He said, "Tim, if you serve Him, you'll be blessed." And he said, "Tim, my ministry began with my family. It's ended with my family. Hear me on that." And then he said these words to me. He said, "Tim, it's because of Him. I'll see you again."

Dr. Tony Evans: That is our hope, that God is true, His Word is perfect, and therefore our hope is sure.

Dr. Clinton: My dad used to say, "Asleep in Jesus. They're just in a different place."

Dr. Tony Evans: Absolutely. It is a relocation. You hate the loss, but you're glad that it's not over, that you're in a temporary separation, looking forward to an eternal reunion.

Dr. Clinton: You're listening to Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. I'm Dr. Tim Clinton, your host today. Our special guest is none other than Dr. Tony Evans, longtime friend of Dr. Dobson, the ministry, someone that God has raised up for such a time as this. And again, we're talking about that season of life that they're going through as a family and the loss of Lois. And Tony in the midst of it, you closed out ... by the way, what a powerful message. Again, if you haven't heard the broadcast that Dr. Dobson aired, it's a two-part series of Dr. Tony Evans and the eulogy of his wife at the actual service. And it's moving. You have to go back and listen to it. But Tony, you talked about Paul to Timothy. Paul saying, "My time has come." And he gave those famous words, hey, "I have fought a good fight." Kept the faith and more. How has that encouraged you? I mean, you personally.

Dr. Tony Evans: Well, I think it has shown me anew that this life is not all that there is. We can get so absorbed in this life, even this life of ministry, and that certainly is important, but that this life is not all that there is. Paul says, "Now is there laid up for me," and those words that Lois said near the end, "They're trying to give me an award." Those words, "they're trying to give me an award." So she was waiting to transition for her well done. And that says to me: fight for that "well done." Fight for that well done because your life was focused on loving the Lord and serving the Lord.

Dr. Clinton: Teach us to number our days, Lord. You talked in that message about how honestly we think of older age as being the determinant. But none of us really know where we're at. You were saying, some of us are 40 and we're old because we ain't going to last too much longer.

Dr. Tony Evans: Right, right. You don't know. So you have to treat every day like it could be the last because every day could be. And with that in mind, you make every day matter for time and eternity.

Dr. Clinton: Yeah. You ended that message, and I want to transition to some of the things you're doing right now. You ended that message with a conversation about playing football and your teammate's gone.

Dr. Tony Evans: Yeah. You're in the game. Your teammate has retired, so they're no longer playing with you or alongside of you, but the game is still going on. You miss them because you're used to being with them on the field of play and on the field of battle. But because you're still there, you still got to play your position and play it well so that your team still progresses. So, in our case, Lois is not on the field now, but I am. We are. And God still has us here. So he still expects us to fulfill the calling he's placed on our lives. Teammate's gone. You'll get with them again in another arena. But in this arena, you keep fighting. Paul told Timothy, this was my fight, and he spends his whole book telling him that you keep going. So we're going to keep going, trusting, ministering, proclaiming, believing, writing, all the things we've been called to do, but we're going to do it with a new sense of urgency because we're doing it in a different way now, given that there has been a retirement of a major team member.

Dr. Clinton: Back to my dad for a moment, Tony. It's not that we don't sorrow as we go forward. We do. I remember looking my dad in the eyes, we were alone and I said, "Dad, how do you do this? I mean, you spent all those years with mom and I know the love you had in your heart for her." I said, "How do you do this?" He said, "Tim, I'll tell you, the worst times for me," he'd say, "are in the night." I remember him saying, "When I would reach over to touch her and nobody's there anymore," he said, "that was my toughest moments." He said, "I realized she's not there anymore and I'd have to process my way through it, think about it." And I said, "Dad, how do you get up and how do you keep going? How do you feel called? I know you love the Lord." And you know what he said to me? He said, "I love to live, Tim. I love to tell the story because I think it's the most important thing in the whole, whole world. And God's got me here for now. For now."

Dr. Tony Evans: Well, your father was on point there, and you do have that missing and that can be daunting sometimes, but when you have that missing coupled with your faith, the missing is different. The grace of God through the Holy Spirit pulls you through it so you can keep going.

Dr. Clinton: You have released probably your most significant works, your commentary and your study Bible. And there was a statement I heard you say that, "My probably greatest sense of achievement, I experienced my greatest sense of loss, but maybe God in the midst of it, there's something that's being birthed, that who knows what God may do with it." Tony, tell us a little bit about how much you poured into this, what your prayer is, what you want to see God do in this hour. We're in such disarray. Our country's all over the place. There's hatred. People are vile toward one another. We're lost. Christianity's in a spin. I mean, what do we do as we step into this moment and you hear God saying, "Let's go"?

Dr. Tony Evans: Well, this was between the time of conception of the project to completion of the project, is close to a 10 year, because when you're trying to cover every paragraph in the Bible in the commentary, and then the study Bible and all the notes, it's a daunting task. Of course, in one sense it's accumulation of a lifetime of ministry. But in terms of focus time from conception, it's about 10 years. And so, the process was collecting all the passages that I had preached on and getting them reduced down to a grab-able portion, and then going through passages that I hadn't been through and writing on those, but being able to do it with a central theme. It is my conviction that there's only one theme to the Bible, and that is the glory of God through the advancement of His kingdom.

Dr. Clinton: I wrote it down right here, "the glory of God through the advancement of the kingdom."

Dr. Tony Evans: That's right. The whole Bible is about that one subject.

Dr. Clinton: It's the rule of God.

Dr. Tony Evans: That's right. And one of the statements I make, when you lose that central theme, then the Bible can easily become disjointed. So you see stories and doctrines that don't stitch together. But this idea of God being glorified through the advancement of his kingdom can be stitched through every passage and every book in the Bible and every thematic theme in the Bible. So, when I developed this concept, although God gave me the development of the concept many years ago, which we call the kingdom agenda, the visible manifestation of the comprehensive rule of God over every area of life. We then were able to see the Bible come together, and I wanted to communicate that theme in a commentary and in a study Bible. So the Tony Evans study Bible and the Tony Evans Bible commentary is designed to foster that worldview in the minds and hearts. We have a great team, and within that Bible we were able to put some things that I don't know a lot about, 21st century things like QR codes and things that make it-

Dr. Clinton: Oh, as a part of the whole piece. So you can go watch videos, different things.

Dr. Tony Evans: You can go watch videos on the Bible and all of that.

Dr. Clinton: All you've got to do is just click on it and it goes straight to it.

Dr. Tony Evans: That's right. That's right. So we put doctrines in there and theology in there and spiritual growth matters in there. So, it's a dynamic study Bible and commentary.

Dr. Clinton: I was asking myself as I was going through it all, what makes it fresh? What makes this thing come alive? It goes back to your theme, the glory of God through the advancement of the kingdom, the rule of God influencing you said four spheres, individual, family, church, government, and you want a very practical approach to God's word. I think it was the "read, ask, pay attention to the context and obey it." Follow the word of God.

Dr. Tony Evans: Right. What we tried to do was to show those four spheres, which are the four spheres of the kingdom, that God operates through and how when they are related rightly to each other and rightly to God, order replaces chaos, whether it's order in your personal life, family life, in your church life or in the broader society led by government. So all of that is part of this kingdom worldview. So I'm very excited to be able to get that message out and tying it to scripture.

Dr. Clinton: I love it. And Tony, as we close, I think there's a lot of hunger or thirst out there. People want to know God. I think they worship him in spirit, but we struggle with the truth side. Biblical illiteracy has run amuck really. People are all over the place, rightly dividing the word of truth. God help us.

Dr. Tony Evans: Well, the word of truth, we must read it. We must understand it and we must utilize it. When reading it and understanding it and utilizing it are connected to one another, then it activates God's reality in your life and in your circumstances. If you don't bother to read it, then you can't understand it. If you don't understand it, you don't know what to do with it, but when you know what to do with it because you've understood it because you've now read it, now you can be transformed by it.

Dr. Clinton: Tony, do you believe there's a remnant still out there? Do you think there's a stirring? Is there an uprising coming? Do you anticipate that? Are you encouraged in your heart?

Dr. Tony Evans: If Christ does not come back, this could be one of the most strategic times for the church because of the chaos. Second Chronicles 15:3-6 says, "In those days, there was no teaching priest, no true God, and there was no law. Chaos. There was no peace among citizens. City rose up against city, nation rose up against nation, for God troubled them with every kind of distress." But then it says, "In their distress because things were so bad, they cried out to God and he let them find him." So, because of the chaos, if we will cry out in the right way, we may see God like we've never seen him before, because the circumstances have forced us to him in a way it's never forced us before.

Dr. Clinton: It's always a pleasure to be with you, Tony.

Dr. Tony Evans: It's good to be with you too.

Dr. Clinton: To celebrate Christ and who he is, and he's alive. As Paul said, "One day, the dead in Christ will rise first and those of us who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the air. And so shall we forever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."

Dr. Tony Evans: Amen. That is our hope.

Dr. Clinton: We love you.

Dr. Tony Evans: Thank you.

Dr. Clinton: We're praying for you. We stand with you. May God do great things.

Dr. Tony Evans: God bless you. Thank you for your friendship.

Roger Marsh: Well, that certainly was a touching and inspiring program and a conversation with Dr. Tony Evans on this special edition of Family Talk. We can trust in God's love and promises, especially when we endure severe hardships in life. I pray that you've been blessed by today's discussion, and if you want to learn more about Dr. Tony Evans, visit today's broadcast page at Once you're there, you'll find information about Dr. Evan's ministry along with his commentary and study Bible that was just released. Discover all that and more when you go to and then click onto the broadcast tab. Well, we've run out of time for this edition of Family Talk, but I hope you'll join us again next time for more uplifting content. I'm Roger Marsh. Thanks for listening, and have a blessed day.

Announcer: This has been a presentation of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute.
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