The music of Ryan Stevenson blends influences from soul, pop, and great guitarists to create engaging, acoustic, guitar-driven melodies. Stevenson embraces the idea that some of the most profound moments of worship emerge not from mountain-top experiences, but from difficult, perhaps even catastrophic circumstances. While working as a front-line paramedic, he also wrote songs, led worship, and performed in small venues. Stevenson shares with YS how a literal lightning bolt opened up doors to pursue his dream of becoming a full-time music artist. (Continued from the January 2018 issue of YS.)
Young Salvationist: I read that you were brought up in the church. When did your faith become real to you?
Ryan Stevenson: I gave my heart to Jesus when I was seven years old. I knew early on that I wanted to be His. There was something in my heart and I had this longing to belong to Him. I wanted to be His son. I never doubted that, but sometimes when you grow up in a certain environment like the church, and it’s a very regular part of your family’s dynamic, at some point it can feel like, “Well, this is just what we do. This is routine.” It loses some of the specialness.
For me, that was the case a little bit, especially later on in high school and college. I never walked away from my faith, but I struggled with wanting to be obedient. There were points in my life where I wanted to get close to fires without getting burned and taste the world, because there were wounds in my life. There were insecurities and voids I wanted to fill that had ever been filled before.
I was searching and looking for ways to do that, and I kind of wandered for a while. It was really early in my married life; my wife and I got married 2002. I attended this worship night and was desperate and praying: “Lord, break through. I really want to know You. I want to know that you’re my Dad. I want to know that I can trust You. I just want You to be the only thing. I don’t want to take one more step feeling like You have wavering degrees of goodness or that You’re pleased with me sometimes, or that there’s a gap in between us. I don’t believe that’s how You are. That’s what my mind is telling me and I want that to be gone. ”
There was a wilderness chapter in my life where I was alone and began to strip things away and dismantle things. I was born and raised in a very conservative, Baptist-in-nature church where I never really learned about grace. It was a very performance-based environment. I grew up under that blanket.
I attended this worship night and a gentleman was there. He stood up and walked across the room. I’d never had anybody prophesy over me. This guy came over, looked me in the face, and really just read my mail, and spoke so much truth, and spoke so much life, and spoke identity into me.
It was stuff that only I knew. It was mind blowing. I still remember the day. I had this massive encounter with the Holy Spirit and it set me on a different course. It shifted my entire paradigm of my faith and the way I viewed God. At that moment, I began to realize that everything is spiritual and it is all about His presence.
YS: How would you describe your relationship with God now?
RS: It’s day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Right now, my prayer is, “Lord, continue to reveal more of Your heart to me. I know that I know You and I’m not going to listen to the lies that tell me that I don’t know You. I’m not going to listen to those voices of accusation that try to spread doubt, and fear, and worry, and try to make me question my faith. I know that is not from You.”
My relationship with God right now is very much a process of becoming a child all over again. I’m 38 years old and I feel like I’m learning to become a little kid again, to crawl into my Dad’s lap and sit there and listen to His heart beat. That’s where my faith is at the moment.
* Read the Ryan Stevenson’s full interview in the January 2018 issue of YS.
Captain Pamela Maynor, Editor of Young Salvationist