In today’s increasingly secular culture, speaking out about one’s faith can be intimidating. But there’s a simple truth — one that, admittedly, might make some people uncomfortable — that has led country singer Granger Smith to take that risk, regardless of the cost.
Appearing recently on CBN’s “Quick Start” podcast, Smith said he is confident to speak out about his Christian beliefs because “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” a reference to Proverbs 9:10.
“My quickest answer to that is probably the answer that would make other people shudder; it would make other people a little wary of it,” Smith said when asked what motivates his boldness. “But here’s my answer: the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
He continued, “When I say, ‘The fear of the Lord,’ it’s not like a Halloween scary. It’s not like a man with a mask popping out from the bushes. It’s not that kind of fear. It’s understanding Who is sovereign, Who is providential, Who has, as the old Sunday school song says, ‘the whole world in His hands.’ When you trust that and you believe that, and there is a certain aspect of that that says, ‘If I believe in this, why would I fear what anyone else says? Why would I fear anything from man when I have the fear of the Lord?'”
Smith, who recently announced his decision to retire from the music industry to pursue full-time ministry, is unabashed in his willingness to share his convictions and discuss theological topics, both on his social media feeds and when he is out performing shows.
His openness to discuss Gospel themes comes as American society is shifting away from faith.
While a majority of U.S. adults still self-identify as Christians (63%), according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, those numbers are in steady decline. Now, about three-in-10 American adults describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated — a noteworthy drop from the 78% who called themselves Christians in 2007, when Pew began surveying Americans on their religious identities.
At the same time, Americans are feeling progressively hopeless.
In the summer of 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing one-in-four adults ages 18 to 24 had considered suicide. Simultaneously, a Harvard Youth Poll of Americans ages 18 and 29 found 51% of respondents admitted that, over the course of the previous two weeks, they felt depressed and hopeless.
Smith’s Gospel-centered message is certainly timely. But, for him, it was born out of necessity.
In 2019, the “Backroad Song” singer lost his 3-year-old son River in a drowning accident. At the time, Smith told TODAY, the horror of losing a child revealed he “didn’t have a good faith” in the Lord.
He told CBN’s “Quick Start” he was relying too much on self-help tactics and not enough on God.
“As you feel physical and, really, emotional benefits from those things — because there’s a lot of good things in self-help [behaviors] — as you feel the benefits, you go, ‘What more can I do? This is great. Let’s just keep adding,'” Smith said. “And what you’re doing is you’re really developing a dependence on yourself — that’s kind of the whole point. … You’re helping yourself and, as you add to that, you’re increasing that dependence and relying more on yourself.”
“It took [the death of my son] for me to to go, ‘There are some things in life that self-help cannot fix or make better,'” he added. “That was the catalyst that happened in 2019, when I lost my son River.”
Smith has written a book, “Like a River: Finding the Faith and Strength to Move Forward after Loss and Heartache,” a memoir chronicling his faith journey through grief and sorrow.
“The book’s called ‘Like a River,’ and so it starts with losing my son to drowning in my backyard when I was there with him,” the singer-songwriter said. “A lot of times, when I was talking about writing the book and people would say, ‘You’re writing a book? What’s it about?’ And I would say, ‘Well, it’s about losing my son.’ … And as I continued to write, I learned, ‘Well, that’s not really what this book is about.’ It’s really not. That’s how it opens and the catalyst to it — that’s how the curtain opens — but really, it’s about me dying and me being reborn and the new path that followed.”
“One of the things that opened up in that rebirth was my son Maverick who was born and Maverick really takes over as the star of the show,” he continued. “By the end of the book, you realize that River got the title and he gets the credit of the cover but, really, Maverick is the star of that book. So it is so much more than, ‘This is a book about losing my son,’ which is what I used to say.”
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