Difficult situations can have a way of making us wonder, What is God doing in my life? Sometimes our path doesn’t look the way we expect—or the way we think it should. But God always knows what he’s doing.
Just ask Tim Rackley. The gospel singer has faced life’s twists and turns like anyone else, but he has witnessed God’s sovereign plan play out through every unexpected circumstance. For specific examples of God’s providence, he doesn’t have to look any further than The Old Paths, the Gospel group he and Doug Roark founded in 2003.
Rackley’s musical career has been anything but typical. The Old Paths performed on a part-time basis for several years, but that changed when Rackley was about 28. He was enjoying leading worship at his dad’s church and pursuing a career in the telecommunications industry when he felt God calling him to pursue The Old Paths full time.
“It was scary because I had a great career with Bell South, which at the time had just merged with AT&T,” Rackley says. “I was senior director there when we decided to go full time as Old Paths, so I walked away from a really lucrative career. Folks thought that I was loaded with money because I was able to start the group, but that was not it. It was the fact that I stepped out in faith.”
What started out as a trio soon morphed into a quartet, and it seemed things couldn’t get better. The Old Paths signed with Crossroads Entertainment’s Sonlite Records in 2012 and got 4 No. 1 hit songs within an 18-month span.
“It was crazy,” Rackley says. “We were booked on all the major events in Gospel music that there were. And we were scheduled by one of the best talent agencies, the Harper Agency.”
An Unexpected Turn
But their rising success came to a screeching halt in 2015. Rackley’s then-15-year-old daughter, Brianna, was diagnosed with kidney failure and needed a transplant.
“She had a rare kidney disease that affects one out of 300,000 kids that age,” he says. “It was a lot of stress on my wife, and it was a lot of stress on me having to leave, because at that time, we were doing about 175 appointments a year.”
Roark was dealing with difficult family matters, too, so the group made the difficult decision to disband for the time being with no idea when they would regroup—if they even would.
During that time, Rackley went back to corporate America and, by God’s grace, was able to step right back into the position he left at AT&T.
But his corporate career was, once again, short-lived. Rackley began to feel God leading him back to The Old Paths, and he says God even used his boss to do so.
“[My boss] pulled me aside one day and said, ‘I’ve seen you sing on YouTube. You’re amazing and you need to be doing that,’” Rackley recalls. “He didn’t even profess to know Christ. So it took a lost man to tell me where I needed to be. And God sometimes uses people like that. In the Bible, He used a donkey to get His message across.”
Not long after this surprising conversation with his boss, Rackley received a call from Chris White, the owner of Crossroads Entertainment. White asked Rackley if he’d be interested in having The Old Paths perform for some limited appointments. He even provided another tenor singer to replace the one who left when the group disbanded.
So in June 2017, The Old Paths took the stage for the first time in years at the Memphis Quartet show. They went as an independent group with no record label, no following, and little experience doing concert venues. Despite these setbacks, God did something amazing.
“I can’t even explain the amount of product we sold,” Rackley says. “That really sparked us into the Gospel music industry.”
God's Unrivaled Blessings
Since that career-changing performance, God has continued to bless The Old Paths to the point that they’ve been able to tour full time since 2019—and their growth shows no signs of slowing. In fact, they’re set to perform in just a few months at what’s being called the biggest Christian music festival in the world.
From August 2 to September 10, dozens of Gospel music stars and preachers from around the nation will gather for 40 Days & Nights of Gospel Music at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky.
Rackley is thrilled about what God will do through this massive event.
“I’m excited to see different denominations of pastors, noted pastors across America, coming together—all for one message, and that’s Jesus,” he says.
Come watch The Old Paths perform live at the 40 Days & Nights of Gospel Music event! Get your tickets at 40daysofgospelmusic.com.