Tennessee native Cody McCarver, former singer and keyboardist for country group Confederate Railroad, recalls a time in which he truly lost hope, diving deep into a life of alcohol and drugs.
And after his dad died in prison, he only felt worse, with the singer getting quite angry at God. Despite an early experience attending church, life at the time seemed so uncertain.
“I was raised in church. I was our church piano player at age 9. Mom taught Sunday school, and we never missed church,” McCarver told Faithwire. “When I was a teenager, I found that I could play music in bars and make money and have fun doing it.”
Eventually, his family severed ties with the church after a dispute with a fellow attendee.
“We never went back and that was the beginning of the end for myself and my family,” McCarver said. “Later, I realized we had put faith in a man and a church and not in God.”
It was during his pivotal teenage years that McCarver started dabbling with alcohol. At first, it was no big deal, but later on his drinking became a dire problem.
“I didn’t really fall into it too hard until I went to work playing bass for a major country artist and then signed my own record deal,” he explained. “I never took anything serious on the road. We just drank a lot and partied.”
Eventually that partying led to a DUI and alcohol poisoning, among other pitfalls. This was all compounded by the fact that, at the beginning of McCarver’s success, he faced an unthinkable scenario.
His father was arrested on Aug. 14, 1998, for murder and sentenced to life in prison. But it was when his dad, whom he had grown close with, died in prison that he hit his lowest point.
“Losing my father was the biggest thing to happen that affected my walk with Christ. It was so unexpected and I was struggling with my personal and professional life,” McCarver said. “God had me under a strong conviction and I was trying figure it out.”
He had gone to see his dad just before his death and had prayed to God to show him how he could help his father gain freedom; three weeks later, his dad died — an event that left him angry.
“I was mad at God by this point,” he said.
But that’s not the end of the story, as McCarver woke up the next morning and “heard God for the first time” — and the message he said he received is pretty surprising.
“He told me he had gotten my father out of prison. When I visited with the chaplain from the prison in the following days he explained to me my dad had given his life to Christ,” McCarver said. “I read my dad’s bible studies when we gathered his belongings from his cell.”
That experience — learning that his dad had become a committed Christian before his death — transformed the singer.
“From that day forward I have been sold out for Jesus,” he said. “People don’t realize how a parent being incarcerated affects a child. Seventy percent of all children who have a parent in prison will go to prison.”
Now, McCarver is back with a new, solo album titled, “Rise Up,” and he’s sharing some of the lessons he’s learned along the way. He’s particularly interested in reaching people who don’t go to church.
“Sometimes it seems the lyrics I write are for the person who doesn’t attend church…for those people, I hope it shows them a better way,” he said. “I hope it shows them a life without Jesus isn’t a life. For the people who attend church, I hope to show them that God can use anyone, even the worst of the worst.”