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A chat with Granger Smith

BACKSTORY | On losing a child and surrendering to God

Granger Smith Illustration by Zé Otavio

A chat with Granger Smith
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When my dear friend Debbie Wickwire told me she was editing a memoir by a platinum-selling country star who, at the top of his game, had decided to step out of the spotlight and into full-time ministry, I knew I had to hear more. Even as you read this, that singer, Granger Smith, is wrapping up his farewell tour. He shares his story in our cover essay in this issue. 

Tell us about your country music journey. I’ve always loved writing poetry, and I remember entering every writing contest that was offered in elementary school. When I was fourteen, I found an old guitar my grandma had tucked away in a closet. Inside the case were a few books of chord charts that explained where to put fingers on the fretboard to make chords. I was hooked instantly. Writing poems to guitar chords was a great way for a teenager to express all those changing emotions. I still feel the same way.

When did you first began to realize that God might be leading you to step out of the spotlight? While our son River was on life support, Amber and I took a walk outside through the hospital serenity garden to get some fresh air. We prayed for a miraculous healing because we believed that God could do that. I still believe that. We prayed that the doctors had missed something and that River would wake up from his coma. The thought occurred to me that God could get so much glory with a healing that might make news around the world. That’s when I felt the first “glitch in the Matrix.” It was as if God was saying, “Don’t tell Me how I get My glory,” and I realized that in our time of desperation, we were only praying for our own earthly desires. We never considered God’s will.

How have fans responded to the news that you will no ­longer be touring? Fans have been very encouraging, and I’m grateful for that. Many are sad and express this to me at meet-and-greets, but I tell them, “I’ll be back to your town and I’ll be back on a stage. … I’ll just have a different message to give.”

Where do you see music ­fitting into life going forward? We’re selling the tour buses and selling the trucks. It’s all going away after this last tour, which ends around Labor Day. I’ll continue preaching at churches, and I am pursuing a master’s degree at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This is a season of equipping. However, the most important thing for me and my family is to serve as members of our small, local church, and sit under sound teaching from my pastors. My immediate connection to music will be singing hymns as loudly as I can next to my wife and children.

How would you speak to other people now struggling with a decision over a radical life change? Too often we worry or struggle about finding God’s perfect will for our lives. We can become paralyzed by indecision and get stuck waiting for some kind of unmistakable call from God. My friend Kevin DeYoung said it like this, “God doesn’t need to tell us what to do at each fork in the road. He’s already revealed His plan for our lives: to love Him with our whole hearts, to obey His Word, and after that, to do what we like.”

If you could look back 10 years from now, what do you hope to have accomplished in this new phase of your life? Right now, I just want to sit under my local pastor’s teachings and learn. That may take decades. Amber and I don’t always know where the next steps are leading. But we make our plans, the Lord directs our steps, and we’re obeying and ­following that call.

Lynn Vincent

Lynn is executive editor of WORLD Magazine and producer/host of the true crime podcast Lawless. She is the New York Times best-selling author or co-author of a dozen nonfiction books, including Same Kind of Different As Me and Indianapolis. Lynn lives in the mountains east of San Diego, Calif.


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