Tyler Edward’s Testimony
I grew up in South Carolina, which is very different than the place that I currently live, Seattle. I was raised in a home where my dad was not a Christian. But my mom was the epitome of what you would see in a movie as a Southern Christian mom.
Ever since I can remember, I was in church, and I grew up in a very conservative church. So, I was taught and learned quickly as a young kid that there are a lot of things wrong with the world and people. I remember the kids ministry group told us about Hell, and I logically thought ‘that doesn’t sound like a great place. If this is my only way out, then I’m taking the Jesus route,' and that was the first time I made a profession of faith and prayed the sinner’s prayer. It’s funny now because I was so young and didn’t really comprehend any of it. The motivation of the whole thing was fear. It wasn’t from a place of knowing anything else, except ‘I don’t want to go to Hell.’
Another funny thing about that is I was the kid in church that kept going down to the alter to get ‘saved and baptized’ again. My logic was this: “‘I’m going to make sure that when I stand before Jesus, if he says he doesn’t know me, I’m going to say ‘well that’s your fault. Because I kept coming down. So... who’s to blame?’”
I think the biggest process for me in my faith, has been learning to understand grace and to accept that.
And I remember the first time that became clear to me was when they had these people come to church and put on a skit. And one of the skits was about this guy that was going to church, and then, they show him die and stand before Jesus. It’s the same thing I’d heard a million times, but when Jesus said ‘Depart from me, because I never knew you,’ for some reason, that just resonated more than it ever did before. And I realized, it wasn’t really about going to church and doing the right things or trying to not go to Hell. This is about wanting to have a relationship with Jesus. So that was the first time that large of a spiritual epiphany happened for me in my relationship with Jesus. Immediately after that happened, the difference was that I was no longer only concerned about myself, but I immediately wanted to pray for my dad.
It’s one thing to want to save yourself; it’s something completely different when the thing that saves you also motivates you to want to care for other people.
So immediately, it went from ‘all about me’ to ‘I want to have a relationship with Jesus and now I care about somebody other than myself.’ That happened in the matter of an hour. That was the last time they’d give an invitation and I felt guilty or convicted or feeling like ‘I’m may go to Hell.’
Because of this experience and my relationship, it separated me from everyone else. I definitely had a lonely childhood experience. Going to high school, I was very sure about what I believed and that I didn’t want to be involved with a lot of things that happen during that time in life. And I also was a baseball player, and that’s all I wanted to do. If you’ve ever seen The Sandlot, I was the one that if the ball broke, I just wanted to find a new one. Honestly, I loved baseball before I loved Jesus and that was something I eventually had to give up. But I was getting really good at justifying ‘No, I could play pro and then be a chaplain.’ And I desperately wanted everything in my life to point to Jesus, but I also wanted to have things that I wanted. So, I got really good at making reasons and smoothing out the edges.
I remember my church putting on a revival, and it was because of the messages during that week that I had started learning what it meant to give things up for the Lord. I felt called to ministry, but I didn’t really want to be in ministry and I wrestled with that for a bit, but then I just decided that it was probably the wisest thing to trust the Lord and see where He would take me.
So, I went through a season that led me to give up baseball, and I never thought I would love anything as much as I loved baseball. But that summer we went to a summer camp, and I fell in love with music. Up to that point, I wanted nothing to do with music at all. So, in the same way, that’s how my salvation worked—when I gave up something, my old desires were replaced with something new from Jesus.
Fast forward to post-college. I was playing music, and I started a touring band. After college, I moved back to South Carolina. And my band members were either in the same city or were close enough to tour. I was also managing a Christian-rock radio station. But ever since I’d started college, I had this restless feeling that I was supposed to be somewhere else, but I never had peace about leaving or where to go. So those are two good reasons to stay put, if you are ever in that situation. But I desperately wanted to go and I wasn’t afraid.
The band that I was in hit a ton of glass ceilings, and we never could figure out why we couldn’t move past a certain stage were in. All my band members started entering different phases of their lives; getting married, taking different jobs, etc. And I was the only one who was still 100% about music. One day, I was sitting at the radio station programming music, and I was so frustrated while having an internal dialogue with God, and I remember thinking ‘Why do I have the desire to do this? Why am I still here? Why isn’t anything happening? Why does it seem every time we turn around we think there’s an opportunity, but it ends up just falling flat, and we end up disappointed?’
And the Holy Spirit revealed to me that I was living with safety nets. One of those being the job at the radio station, one of those actually being the band, and the other one being I was still living in my hometown. And it was at that point that I decided just to quit literally everything and start from scratch. I didn’t really know what that meant or what that looked like, but I knew: ‘Ok, I’m moving.’
I had a list of cities that I was considering… Atlanta, Savannah, Austin, San Diego and Seattle. And also New York was on there, but I knew that the three big ones were Austin, San Diego and Seattle. At that time, I’d only visited Seattle for a day, and I didn’t really enjoy the experience that much. Meanwhile, one of my favorite bands was from San Diego, and I had a potential opportunity to go there and be a part of their whole thing. And I heard Austin was cool, so I was considering Austin too. I was praying about my choices and started writing and recording acoustic songs. I started touring and telling people I was thinking about moving and before I knew it, I’d told everybody I was moving to Seattle. It just naturally kind of came out of my mouth. Because all the doors in other places closed everywhere, and Seattle was the only place where there was nothing on paper telling me not to go and so that was good enough for me. I thought, ‘I don’t need a reason… If there’s not a reason against it, let’s do it.’
And the main reason I was able to trust even with all the uncertainty was because I had gone through a similar process maybe a year or two earlier, and the Lord taught me how to trust Him and know that I was somehow following His plan, no matter how that looks or feels. Proverbs 16 says, “an oracle is on the lips of the king, there is no error in his judgement.” And I just knew that wherever I ended up, if I was actually seeking the Lord’s guidance, then he was either going to lead me to the right place or subtly correct me, or not so subtly, haha. One way or another, I’d end up where I was supposed to be.
And then I decided to move to Seattle, and I thought ‘well, I should tour out there,’ and immediately the whole route opened up, including going through Austin. I thought, ‘well, alright, I’ll take that as a sign.’ On my way here to Seattle, I even went through San Diego and through the cities I contemplated. I did that whole journey by myself. It was the first time I was really on my own, and it was cool. I mean there were lots of little stories along the way that solidified what I was doing. The people I met, sometimes they were Christian, sometimes they weren’t, but the way those relationships developed was like ‘Oh, this all feels like it’s been set in motion before now.’ It was really interesting.
Now, I love music more than I have loved anything else I have done. And maybe someday I'll have to give that up too. But trusting in Lord is what led me to Seattle and how I ended up at Cross & Crown Church. He always leads me to something that helps fulfill me and my purpose.