Ryan Stevenson: Rooted in Identity as a Child of the King (Part 1)

John FarrellBy John Farrell14 Minutes

John Farrell: What was the inspiration behind writing your book, Eye of the Storm: Experiencing God When You Can’t See Him?

Ryan Stevenson: Honestly, looking back and reflecting over my journey and the path that I’ve been on all these years and seen at this stage in my life, seeing what’s going on in my life and recognizing the tremendous blessing, I’m blown away by how good God is. It’s forced me to sit in a place of gratitude, grace, and humility and look back at how my unconventional journey has been. It’s been all over the place. My life has been a roller coaster.

I just needed to write down the story of my life even if it was just for me to get it out and reflect on the journey. That was really my only intention. It was never to write a book. It was never to do anything other than just have my story out so I could remember and reflect on it.

God’s Unnoticed Presence

JF: What is the overall message you hope readers take from your book?

Ryan: Just how God is present in even the most mundane minute details of our lives. How He is orchestrating the details. How He’s a brilliant craft worker of circumstance, and because He’s a dad he has such a tender, gracious, compassionate heart for His kids. And He has good things for us. He’s just so good.

I hope people see that within my story and recognize it in their own and start to be aware of the reality that we’re beloved children. And all of our journeys are unique, and that God is present in them all of the time.

JF: Why is that message so important for people to hear today?

Ryan: Because I think people are so lost and hopeless. They’re blinded and distracted with culture and with issues and with all these things that try to come at us and detract us from what I believe is the real true meaning of existing – to live a life of loving God with all our heart and loving our neighbor, the two greatest commandments. But we have so much other stuff in the way.

I hope people can understand that when you get rooted and established in your beloved identity as a child of the King everything else in life is a secondary consequence of understanding and knowing that you’re loved. And a lot of us don’t know that we’re loved.

JF: What did you learn about yourself from writing the book? Was there an epiphany?

Ryan: Yeah. I think just reflecting. Not that I didn’t know that about myself, but it was kind of a reminder of how there have been seasons of my life where I have been immature, where I haven’t done or said the right thing, where I haven’t had it all together. But I was able to see God’s hand and provision and correction in my life as a good Father even in the midst of my days spent living in cycles of dysfunction and compromise.

JF: In addition to Eye of the Storm being the title of your book, it’s also the title of one of your most popular songs. What about that title is so important in your life’s journey?

Ryan: “Eye of the Storm” is about experiencing God when you can’t see Him. There’s been many times in my life, even as a Christian, Christ-follower, and being born and raised in the church, where I feel like, ‘God, I can’t see you at all. I have a lot of questions. I don’t know what You’re doing or where You are.’

Yet God, even in the midst of my questions, my wrestling, and my compromise, still comes through and is present even when we can’t see Him. By using the subtitle, “Experiencing God When You Can’t See Him,” I really hope that my testimony and the vulnerability in that is showing people how one guy who doesn’t have it all together experiences God’s hand, grace, mercy, provision, and protection in the midst of tremendous storms and uncertainties of my life, even when I couldn’t see God and I couldn’t figure anything out and I had no direction.

I know He’s the same God for all of us even when we can’t see Him or when we feel like we can’t see Him because He’s always there whether we feel it or not.

Darkest Moments and Breakthroughs

JF: Were there any chapters or sections of the book you struggled with writing or were a little more difficult than other sections?

Ryan: Yeah, definitely. There’s a chapter called “Heaven Bound.” There are a few chapters. I think pretty much the scenarios in my life where I had to go back and remember walking with my mother through her cancer battle.

That was really difficult having to remember some of that and go back and kind of relive that as I was writing this book and remembering a lot of the details and things that I honestly had repressed and swept under the rug. Things that I didn’t want to deal with for almost ten years since my mother’s death. Hashing these memories back up was honestly really hard and scary, but truly very healing for me.

JF: Could you please tell me about your journey from growing up on a farm to where you are today and what were some of those pivotal moments in your life that helped steer you to where you are today? And what role did God’s hand play in all of that?

Ryan: I think there were a few trajectory-shifting moments. One would be growing up with a family who owned a dairy farm – a Dutch family who were very loyal, very honest, extremely hard workers. They taught me how to work. They taught me not to be lazy. They taught me to honor my commitments and let my “yes” be my “yes” and my “no” be my “no.” It was such an amazing environment to grow up in as a young kid. It really established a foundation in me that has carried me to this very day. That would be one.

Two would be learning how to play the drums in the third grade, and then getting a guitar at eighteen for a graduation present from high school. When my youth pastor gave me an acoustic guitar, I had no idea why he would do that. He just dumped it in my lap one day and said, “Here you go.” When I learned how to play that guitar, that really was a trajectory-shifting moment that sparked such a huge passion to use my voice, write songs, and make music and melodies. It was almost like the birth of something new that I fell in love with.

Another one obviously would be becoming a paramedic and saving the life of a lady who got struck by lightning. Our connection and bond eventually led her to help me get into a recording studio to record some songs that I’d written over the years and eventually got me a record deal, which transitioned me out of that world.

We could talk for a long time about all that, but for time’s sake, I’m just trying to hit a few bullet points of some of the unconventional kind of quirky things that have happened – the really pivotal moments that have brought me to right here.

Obviously, meeting TobyMac through a song that I had started writing called “Speak Life” and getting connected with him was major. The biggest trajectory-shifting moment in my life was getting connected with Toby, and him signing me to his label and taking me out on tours, and them putting my music out to the world.

JF: You briefly mentioned Lara Eustermann, whom you saved when she was struck by lightning. You also briefly mentioned that she helped you get into the recording studio. I was wondering if you could go a little more into that and how what she did helped change your career’s trajectory?

Ryan: The nuts and bolts of that is she received a check from the state for a retroactive disability check. And I was in a position that I needed some extra funds to record a demo. While I was talking with her about it, she realized that the check that she had just gotten in the mail was the exact amount that I needed to get into a recording studio. So, she gave me that money, and that little demo was what got me my record deal.

But above and beyond money, to me, the thing that is so special and profound about my connection with her is that she and I are spiritually and politically on opposite sides of the planet. But we just developed a bond, and I love her unconditionally. She loves me. We don’t need to agree about aspects of life to love one another well. And she just saw something in me that made her want to help me.

She said, “I want to be there for you.” That’s the one thing that always moves me so much. Here’s a person that doesn’t share my faith at all but has such a tremendous amount of love and light in her that she would reach into my life and help me when she had no reason to at all.

That was something that changed me as a Christian because there are a lot of times I hold back. I withhold help and support from people because I don’t necessarily agree with what they believe or what they stand for. And here’s a woman who doesn’t necessarily agree with or is on the board with what I stand for. She helped me, and because of her support, my music has impacted millions of people around the world. It’s just unbelievable how amazing God works and weaves our stories together.

Order your copy of Eye of the Storm: Experiencing God When You Can’t See Him by Ryan Stevenson