[AUDIO PODCAST] Trusting God to Fill the Gap: Rodeo Stars Tyson Durfey w/Shea Fisher & Cody Custer

[AUDIO PODCAST] Trusting God to Fill the Gap: Rodeo Stars Tyson Durfey w/Shea Fisher & Cody Custer


Trusting God to Fill The Gap: Rodeo Stars
Tyson Durfey (w/ wife Shea Fisher) and Cody Custer Life can be a long, difficult ride and there
are times that fill us with despair, especially when giving our best isn’t enough to help
us change our circumstances. While we wrestle with fear and uncertainty,
God works quietly in the background, filling the gaps in our efforts, carefully nudging
us forward so we can keep going. Our guests have held onto their faith as they’ve
traveled the winding roads of Western sports: world champion rodeo athlete Tyson Durfey
and his wife, country music artist Shea Fisher, and former champion bull rider Cody Custer. Tyson: Everything that happens, [it] happens
for a reason, and sometimes you have to be put through the fire so you can be refined. Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Our guests both have rich legacies in the
world of Western sports and know the highs of winning but also have felt the sting of
defeat, and share how God walked with them through it all: world champion rodeo athlete
Tyson Durfey and his wife, country music artist Shea Fisher, and former champion bull rider
Cody Custer. When cowboy Tyson Durfey met Australian country
music artist Shea Fisher, he knew Shea was the woman he was supposed to marry, but Tyson
didn’t know how much Shea’s love for him and for God would ultimately change his life. Over the years, as Tyson and Shea have grown
in their marriage and their spiritual walk, they’ve relied on God to carry them through
some of their toughest moments, especially when they couldn’t see the way forward. Tyson: I’m Tyson Durfey. First and foremost, I’m a Christian. Other than that, I’m a world champion rodeo
athlete. I’m a husband. I’m a father. And I’m a cowboy. Shea: And I am Shea Fisher Durfey. I am Tyson’s wife. I’m partly Australian, I guess, now that I
live in the US. So I’ve been here now for 10 years, born and
raised in Australia. I grew up in a rodeo family, and I branched
into music so I moved to Nashville in 2009. I met this handsome cowboy, and it brought
me to Texas. So I’m Nashville, Texas, and Australia, all
put in one. Tyson: I grew up on a ranch in Savannah, Missouri. It’s in the northwest corner of Missouri,
where Jesse James used to ride and rob banks and do all that stuff. Growing up, I was a was a cowboy. My mom and dad got divorced when I was really
young. I was raised between both households until
I was 10, and then I moved in with my dad full-time. When I was with my dad, we would ride horses
pretty much [all day, every day]. And when I was really little, I didn’t want
to be a rodeo athlete—I wanted to be Spider-Man, and then I wanted to be a Navy SEAL. Later in life I thought, Well, I can make
money with this rodeoing stuff. This is gonna work out. So then I [became] really dedicated with the
rodeo stuff from about twelve [years old] on. Shea: My dad is an eight-time Australian champion
rodeo athlete. He rode bulls and bareback, so he was that
all-around champion. From as far back as I can remember, we lived
on the road. So at a young age, I was living on the road,
basically living the same life our daughter lives with us, travelling from rodeo to rodeo. My mum is also a barrel racing champion. She’s won several titles in Australia, as
well. I think I won my first rodeo when I was six
years old—junior event, of course. And then ever since, I’ve ridden horses. It’s definitely something that came naturally
to me [since] I was born into a rodeo family. Music came through rodeo, being at rodeos,
hearing all the country music songs that were played. My parents lived in the US when I was nine,
and that was when there was Reba[a] and Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw and all those amazing
artists. The amount of miles that we travelled, we
listened to a lot of cassettes back then. So that was where my love for music came from. Tyson: When I left the ranch, I had my first
season pro tour. I was 19 years old. I had won pretty much everything in high school
and amateur ranks, and I thought I would be the next hot shot, on the road, but I didn’t
really know what “the road” meant. I didn’t realize that you leave home for eight
months a year and you don’t come home at all. And so it took some major adjusting. I had a terrible first season. I lost my entire life savings, which was a
pretty big upset to me. I felt like I was a failure to my dad, and
my family, and everybody that believed in me. And I actually quit. I came home, and I started a welding business. I did that for a few years and then I went
back to rodeoing. I’d saved and saved and saved, and then I
spent my entire life savings again—except this time when I spent my life savings, I
had found credit cards too. I maxed out my credit card at about $20,000. I wasn’t at zero like the first time—I
was actually below zero because I had to pay those credit cards back. Long story short, I stayed hooked and started
winning and figuring it out. There’s a big learning curve, and I’d lost
everything I had twice. I was living in the backseat of my truck,
just rodeoing around. I’d bum showers from different people at a
rodeo, if they had a trailer or something, and it’s not something that I ever want
to go back to. It was tough. Slowly I began to win. I started traveling across Canada and the
US. I was the first American to win a national
championship in Canada, and then I started making the National Finals. And a few years later, I met this beautiful
lady right here. Shea: When we met, I knew who he was. Our recollection of the meeting is a little
different, but it doesn’t matter—only that we ended up together. I mean, you can tell it, if you want. Tyson: I [saw Shea] at Houston Rodeo in 2010,
and I was just like, Wow. Who is that girl over there? Shea: Short version today. Tyson: Okay, I’ll give the short version. And immediately, it was like God shot down
a ray of light on her and the wind blew her hair back. I thought, Man, I’ve got to talk to her. I walk over there and I’m like, “Hi, how are
you?” And she says like, “Fine, thanks,” in her
Australian accent, which made it even better. Not only was she beautiful, but then she had
an Australian accent. I knew immediately at that moment I was gonna
marry her. The next day, she sent me a Facebook message
just saying, “Nice to meet you.” I took that as an open door policy to really
get in there. I asked for her phone number and to go out
on a date pretty much every time we messaged for . . . a year, maybe? Shea: He’s very persistent, and he kept asking
for my phone. He would write a message, and I’d answer
everything but the phone number. I was living in Nashville. I was singing. I was on radio tour. I had a song out on radio. I mean, the last thing I want to do is be
tied down. But I definitely didn’t say no to Tyson because
I loved his friendship, and I wanted to have him there for when I felt like I was getting
more settled down. So I actually needed tickets to the rodeo
one day, so I reached out to Tyson and he agreed to give me the tickets as long as I
would go to dinner with him. So I bargained and said, “Well, how about
breakfast?” Tyson: Yes, so no dinner. Shea: We had breakfast, and then we just kept
in touch for about the next six months or so. My dad’s an Australian champion rodeo athlete,
so I said, “If you want to date me, you’re going to have to ask my dad.” So when my parents came over for the National
Finals, he asked my parents if he could date me. And then the next year at the National Finals,
he asked if he could marry me. Tyson: Not to her, I asked her parents. Shea: Yes. And then we got engaged New Year’s Eve in
New York. Tyson: I had planned a trip to New York on
New Year’s Eve, and the plan was to propose in Times Square during the ball drop. I didn’t realize there are, like, a million
people there. In the movies, there’s tons of room. Come to find out, you have to be there 24
hours ahead and you have to stay there [to save your spot]. So that wasn’t going to work for me. We ended up going to Central Park by the Bethesda
Fountain, and I started into my spiel about why I want to marry her three minutes before
the ball dropped. I ask her to marry me, she said yes. And one second later, the first firework goes
off. Impeccable timing. It was God’s timing—I’m not that good. Shea: So romantic. Shea: My parents weren’t raised in a Christian
household, but they both got saved when they were around 23. In Australia the rodeo industry is not as
Christian-based as it is in the US. They definitely had to stand up for their
beliefs, and it wasn’t the cool thing at the time. But I’ve been blessed because I’ve always
been raised in a Christian household. From as far back as I can remember, we were
in church and Sunday school. That’s always been very important to me, even
with our daughter, to make sure she has a good foundation and knows the Bible stories
and things like that because that’s definitely been a part of my life. I knew at the time I met Tyson, he wasn’t
as strong in his Christian walk as I was. I had dated some guys in the past, and I had
thought, You know what? I can just change them, or, It’s okay, they’ll
become a Christian. But I always went back to the scripture my
parents put in me as a young girl: “Don’t be unequally yoked.” Tyson: My relationship with Jesus, my Lord
and Savior really started . . . I [saw] those seeds getting planted when I was really little. My mother is a devout Christian. She had sown those seeds in that foundation
so deep into me that I didn’t even know that they were there. [I grew up in] kind of a tough environment
because when I lived with my mom, we would go weeks without electricity. We would never have food in the house. I would sneak to other kids’ houses just
so I could have something to eat. I was running with the wrong kids. I was skipping school, every learning disability
class. And my mom was a really big optimist that
[said things like], “We’re going to be okay, we’re going to make it.” ‘Course, she was a single mother with two
kids, trying to raise them in a heavily urban environment with a lot of distractions. She was just struggling and trying. As we got older, my brother and I got too
wild for my mom. She couldn’t handle us anymore, so she sent
us to live with our dad on the ranch. And when I went to the ranch, values—human
values—were the highest thing that you could do. If you shook a man’s hand, that’s the way
it’s going to be. If you told him it was going to be some way,
it was going to be that way. But we would tell dirty jokes. There was whiskey and beer every single day. There were women coming and going. It was a very polarized environment. It wasn’t until I left and got out in the
world that I realized, Okay, these things I know as a young man aren’t things that are
going to propel me to the future that I want. Shea asked me in June 2011, “Are you a Christian?” And I really wanted Shea. I had that Christian base, but it was a long
ways back. And I was like, “Yeah, I’m a Christian.” Shea: I’m pretty sure you told me yes. Tyson: I had this Bible in the dash of my
truck that was given to me by the people who later baptized me. So I [started to open] the Bible every day,
and I just started reading it—it was a New Testament Bible. I’d read about Jesus, and I’m reading through
James and it’s just so much wisdom. It just blew my mind, like, James 1:19: “Truly
I tell you, every man should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” And I was the exact opposite. I didn’t want to listen. I wanted to speak, and I got angry because
I’m an Irish redhead who likes to fight. And then it got ahold of me. It grabbed me during the same time I was getting
to know Shea. And when I go in, I go all in. I don’t do anything at 50 percent. I go in 100 percent with whatever I decide
to go after. And I picked up the Bible, and it grabbed
hold of my heart. It was just that transition, and it was truly
amazing for me.[b] Shea: I remember when we were we were dating,
I had gotten the Jesus Calling book and I said to Tyson, “You need to read this.” And I think he was travelling, so I was like,
“You know what? Download the app onto your phone so you can
read it every day.” Tyson: We would read it together every night. Shea: And sometimes I’d skip ahead or skip
back and just kind of see what was on my heart that day. I have hard copies of this book. It’s on my phone, in my apps. And I just love how worldwide it is, because
once I knew about it, I introduced my mom to it. There were some people in Australia who weren’t
saved, and she told them about it. It’s helped so many people in life. Tyson: That is so true. In 2016, I won the World Championship [at
the National Finals Rodeo]. It was the worst year leading up to qualifying
for the National Final. I mean, everything that could go wrong went
wrong. We blew up two trucks on the road. Shea: Brand-new trucks, too. Tyson: Generator problems left and right,
constantly outside the top 20. Shea: I was a lot of months pregnant at the
time. Tyson: Very pregnant—like, very pregnant—and
it was just so tough. At one point, I was ready to give up and go
home. I was ready to be done. Long story short, I ended up qualifying for
the National Finals in the 14th position. They take 15 to the National Finals Rodeo. Leading up to the last few final days of competition,
I would spend 30 minutes reading my Bible, 30 minutes stretching in a dark room. Then I would take a shower, and I would go
get ready to compete. On the seventh go-round of the National Finals,
I am in the shower. I get done in the shower and put the towel
on my face, and the Lord just spoke to me immediately, and He said, “I am with you.” I’m getting goosebumps right now just talking
about it. And I just wanted to fall down on my knees
and cry because I was so [shaken] by it. When you hear the word of the Lord that vivid
and that audible, it shakes you to your core, it really does. [c] And from that moment coming out of the shower,
I knew I was going to be the world champion, even though the math didn’t look like it. The numbers didn’t look like it. There was literally almost no way that I could
be the world champion because I was so far down in the pack. But where you don’t see the way, God sees
the way.[d] It’s the truth. I went on to win the World Championship coming
from nearly the very last person in the pack. If you were to point a linear trajectory from
where I started to where I ended with my ability, there would be a straight line to that point,
right? And then from that point, there’s a dotted
line leading to the World Championship. Where I was capable of winning a World Championship
was from this dot to that dot, where the line was connected—and where the line was not
connected is where there were dots, that’s where my faith filled in the space, where
I wasn’t good enough. That’s where my faith and my belief in my
Lord filled in the gap to get me to the World Championship. And that’s what God will do in your life. That’s what Jesus will do for you. It’s important to remember that if you can’t
do it, God will fill in the gap.[e] Narrator: To get the latest on Tyson’s life
in and out of the arena, follow him on social media. You can find updates on Shea’s music at
sheafisher.com. Narrator: Stay tuned for our interview with
former professional bull rider Cody Custer after a brief message about a free offer from
Jesus Calling! Narrator: From the time he was a little boy,
Cody Custer knew he would be in the rodeo. Even through a series of tragic events that
happened when he was young, Cody was still able to succeed in western sports, and took
many prizes before retiring after 20 years as an athlete. As Cody looked toward life after his rodeo
career, another unexpected tragedy forced him to reevaluate everything he held dear. Cody Custer: So my name’s Cody Custer. I rode bulls professionally from 1983 to 2003. I started riding calves when I was five, so
most of my life I was in bull riding. In 1972, my brother and sister died in a carbon
monoxide poisoning. It led us away from anything to do with God,
let’s put it that way. There was a lot of partying going on around
our crew, and I got into it. Heck, at eleven years old, I was smoking pot. At that time, Mom and Dad were partying and
there was a lot of stuff going on that probably wasn’t the best for our situation. But really behind it is just . . . hiding. They were just trying to hide the pain, you
know. And so the church we went to put a lot of
pressure on them in 1972, after the kids died, and they just left because there was so much
pressure I don’t know if everything happens for a reason,
but I believe there’s a reason in the middle of what happens. [f] My mom grew up ranching and rodeoing, and
so I went on my first roundup when I was 4 years old. I don’t know if I’m much of a cowboy, but
I’ve been around it a whole lot, and I’m kind of savvy to some of the [cowboy] things,
just because I grew up around it. Gosh, we were at a rodeo almost every weekend. In 1979, life was pretty good. My dad was a silversmith who built really
nice buckles, and my mom, she worked with him and stuff. And he broke his neck in a horse accident
that year. Dad was paralyzed, and it just put us in a
different position. Where he was always a physical guy, now he
had to rely on God. I don’t believe that God ever takes His hand
off any of us, no matter what we’re doing, no matter what’s going on in our lives.[g] I kind of fell in love with bareback riding,
which is another event in rodeo. And through high school and starting into
a professional level, that’s where I was really focused. I still rode bulls and I had success [with
that], but I really was thinking about pursuing bareback riding. When I got to the level of professional, the
quality of the stock got a little bit stronger, and so I found out that I didn’t ride bucking
horses as [well] as I rode bulls. So the bullriding kind of took over at that
point, and I was able to make a living with riding bulls starting in 1985. In ‘86, I ended up just outside the top
20, or maybe just inside the top 20. [At any rate], I didn’t make it to the National
Finals, which is the top 15. I got to go out to the National Finals and
watch from the stands, and I saw guys in the arena I thought I rode better than. And so it was just it was a kickstart to the
new year, and it made me get disciplined and get focused on what I was wanting to do. 1987 through 1992, I qualified for the National
Finals consecutively, and 1992 was the year everything fell into place and I had great
success. I mean, I set an earnings record that year. In 1993, shortly after I won the world title,
my wife gave birth to our first boy, Aaron, on March 7th. So that was awesome, just to be able to bring
a life in the world and get to know him. [After Aaron was born], there were five years
in a row I had injuries that cost me the year. I’d always based my success on how well I
did rodeoing, I was still riding [well], but I was having these injuries and stuff [that
kept me from competing at a high level]. But looking back on it, that was a time in
my life when a lot of stuff was developed in me that comes to life now. I got to see my boy grow up. I got to see the first five years of my boy’s
life. Looking back on all of it, I really wouldn’t
change things. I see God all over the middle of it, on top
of it [because] I think people get too wrapped up in circumstances and forget [success is]
not the end all. [h] I went on to have a good career. I finished riding bulls in 2003. I’m not riding bulls anymore, and I’m trying
to find out really figure out exactly where I fit in the world because I’m not a bull
rider anymore. So we moved to Oklahoma in 2007, and I quit
my position with the PBR and just stayed home quite a bit. And my boy [Aaron], he became a man in the
summer of 2011. He was rodeoing, bought his own trailer and
was paying his way that way. He decided to go to college in Weatherford,
Oklahoma. The day before classes started, he and his
buddies were coming home. They had a rodeo meeting that night—[that’s
what] kids will do at 2 a.m.—but they were on a road that none of ’em knew. It was a straight road with a jagged curve
in it. The boy driving, who survived the wreck, told
me he had put his dims on ’cause there was a car that went by, and he never put his brights
back on . . . and he never saw the corner until they were in it. He overcorrected, and he went off [the road]. My son and Drury both died in that car wreck. I used to get up every morning and read my
Bible and talk to the Lord. I was up that morning, and a bang came on
the door. I opened the door, and I’d seen the scene
before in a dream. It was a police officer and my pastor and
his wife there. And I knew. They didn’t have to tell me what happened. Probably the worst thing that could possibly
happen to a person is losing a child. Aaron, he was our first kid. There’s a lot of first experiences we had
with him, and it was a pretty rugged time. I can’t say I don’t have a rougher time with
it now that I did the first few years. It’s been [eight] years since Aaron went back
to the Father. But in the aftermath of that, we had so many
people who would call us and tell us what Aaron meant to them, people we didn’t know. I mean, he met so many people, he never knew
a stranger. Anyway, I learned a lot. I learned a lot more from my boy than I ever
thought I did.[i] He just taught me a lot of stuff. Somebody gave me this Jesus Calling book,
[and] I stayed with it fairly consistently. The morning we got the news that Aaron had
passed, I hadn’t read the devotional that day. So for a few days, I was kind of in a fog
there. But I went back and looked, and it was August
16, 2011, when Aaron was killed, somewhere around 2:30 or 3 in the morning. I’ll just read August 16. It says, “Meet Me in the early morning’s
splendor.” That’s the first line [of the devotional]. So to me, that’s te way my boy went back
in the presence of the Father, [during] the early morning splendor. [Jesus Calling] is just a book with words
until the Spirit hits it, and then it’s life.[j] And so to me, it just gave me a little bit
of a rest and a peace that [Aaron] is back with the Father, where he belongs, where we’re
all headed. Everybody grieves their own way. Grieve how you grieve. There’s no there’s no cookie cutter way to
grieve. [k]I’m no counselor, but I have been through
some stuff. Just go ahead and do it the way you’re going
to do it. But don’t back down. Don’t give up. Keep moving forward, and you can’t lose
that way. Narrator: You can learn more about Cody’s
faith and his riding clinics at codycuster.com. Narrator: If you’d like to hear more stories
about learning to trust God when life gets tough, check out our interviews with NFL Hall
of Fame wide receiver Tim Brown and Super Bowl Champion quarterback Jeff Hostetler. Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast,
we speak with pastor Jonathan Pitts. When we talked with Jonathan, he reflected
on some of the most important lessons he learned in his 15-year marriage to his wife, author
Wynter Evans Pitts, who died suddenly at the age of 38. Jonathan Pitts: That’s the beautiful thing
about marriage. I think there’s a commitment to love and sacrifice
and to lay down for each other that you’re always going to be growing, and there’s always
going to be something else to lay down. So my continued encouragement to you, year
by year, is [marriage is] never perfect, but if it’s intentional, it’s always progressional.

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