BETWEEN THE LINER NOTES
Andrew Peterson: The Fearless Family Man
By Jennifer E. Jones
Adult contemporary singer/songwriter Andrew Peterson has penned Christian music's most vulnerable lyrics since his first album, Carried Along, hit the scene in 2000. Ten years later, he is still singing songs as a husband and father who is still lost in the wonder of God's grace and glory. His latest album, Counting Stars, offers an honest portrait of a family man weighing the greatness of Christ's command to live a life of no fear.
CBN.com: You call marriage and family life "the great adventure". Today, many people aren't signing up for that adventure, signing up late or wanting to get out. You've been married for 15 years now. How are you maintaining that spirit of adventure?
For us, it's two things. I found myself surrounded by friends and a church that reminds me of what's important. I'm thinking right now of Ben Shive and Andy Gullahorn, the two guys I tour with. Both of them are family men. There are ten kids amongst us. Being around guys who have taken deliberate steps to invest in family and to write songs about things that matter, things that last. The other part of it is that, from the very beginning of our marriage, part of what attracted us to each other is that we're both a little crazy. We would have had to have been to get married as young as we were. My wife was doing short-term mission trips alone. I remember thinking how cool it was that she was that independent and courageous. It doesn't surprise me that we have chosen to do things a little differently. It's a matter of making decisions based on faith and not fear. There's a lot to be afraid of in the world. If you truly believe that Christ is with you, that you're a bearer of the Holy Spirit, then it's not like you can do no wrong, but even if you fail miserably, God will turn it upside down and make it beautiful somehow. He gives us this freedom to walk through life with a little bit of happy recklessness.
CBN.com: It sounds like you've found what works for your family.
It would be easy to make it sound like we've got this thing figured out and we don't. I'm as deeply sinful person as I know. My wife and I have our arguments, but I really do believe, as the spiritual leader of my family, I am trying to instill in my children a true belief in the presence of God. I want the Gospel and Christ Himself to be real to these kids. We won't go through the motions. We won't be one of those families that just seems Christian. On the deepest level, I want them to understand that the world is full of wonder and mystery and we're just along for the ride.
CBN.com: Tell me how your family inspires you in your music and your writing.
My sons, when they were young, I read them The Chronicles of Narnia. I don't think I would have read the books the same way if I hadn't had these boys on my lap. It just wrecked me. I remember crying my way through passages of each book. They thought I was very weird. You're seeing these things through a child's eyes with adult experience. It reminded me how much I love those stories. Having my children reminds me to drop to one knee and see the world through their eyes.
CBN.com: On Counting Stars, I personally loved "You Came So Close". Where did that come from?
The verses came out of hard conversations with friends of mine who were going through dark nights of the souls suicidal thoughts and another guy whose marriage was falling apart. He had been cheating on his wife and spiritually speaking was as dead as he could be. He decided that whenever his wife found out that he would have his bags packed. She confronted him; of course it was ugly. He stood there waiting for her to kick him out and she didn't. In this moment of incredibly grace, she said, "I don't want you to leave. I want to figure this out. You're my husband. I love you." That was so jarring to him, because he couldn't fathom that she would ever want him to stay. It woke him up. Whatever it was that was in him that wanted to quit, it gave him a ray of hope that maybe he was loveable. Lo and behold, they're still married. That story renewed my faith that there's never reason to give up hope. The Lord can do anything. How many times has He proven this ability to take all of this darkness and to turn it inside out and turn it into this bright light.
I was watching the commentary on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and one of the commenters said that despair is not just a sin theologically speaking. Despair is also just a mistake. Despair assumes you know the end of the story, that you can see something that you can't. My friends in that moment could not forsee a good ending to their stories, but there was still cause for hope. We don't know how the story will end.
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Counting Stars (Centricity, 2010)
andrew on being fearless
"Christian discipleship and life in Christ can be summed up in "Do not fear". After Christ's resurrection, when He shows up to the apostles, the first thing out of His mouth is "peace be to you". We as followers of Christ are being reminded again and again not to be afraid.
"Death is the ultimate enemy and Christ has conquered it, so there's nothing to be afraid of.
"There is advice out there that operates on fear, that the world is this dark place and it will destroy you if you let your guard down. There is some truth to that; you can't be foolish. At the same time, if we really believe that the Holy Spirit lives in us, then we can stride into that darkness and carry this light into the world. We can be free to engage with culture without being afraid that it will tear us apart from the inside out."