He’s hosted over 20 successful TV shows, written several books, hiked Mount Everest, wrestled an alligator and he holds the world record for the “Highest Open-Air Formal Dinner Party”—in a hot air balloon at 7,600m. Bear Grylls is known for his insane accomplishments, wild ways and impressive survival skills, but also for his faith in God.
From a young age, Edward Michael “Bear” Grylls embodied adventure.
He learned to climb great heights and sail great waters. As he grew up, it’s no surprise that he had a tendency to run toward danger. He admits he was a difficult child to raise.
At eight years old, Grylls became a Cub Scout. He earned a dan black belt in Shotokan Karate when he was only 11, and by the time he was a teenager, skydiving had been crossed off his list of exhilarating activities. At just 23, he was one of the youngest in the world to scale Mt. Everest.
“I had a very natural faith as a kid,” Grylls told Relevant Magazine. “As a really young kid, I never questioned God. I just knew God existed and it felt like He was my friend.” Grylls often refers to his Christian faith as the “backbone” in his life. But he admits that believing hasn’t always been as easy as it was when he was a kid. “It’s been a kinda wiggly, messy journey that is still continuing,” Grylls says.
It wasn’t until high school that his faith was tested. Grylls began meeting ‘believers’ that distorted his view of Christianity.
“When I got to school it [Christianity] became a lot more religious and I thought, ‘I don’t like this,’” he told CBN. “It was all about church-going and people telling you not to smoke behind the bike shed. I thought, ‘If this is God, maybe I’ve got the whole deal wrong.’ So I kind of ditched my faith.”
As he abandoned his faith, Bear took that dangerously-alive spirit he was born with and rebelled. With stories of surviving a sinking mud-pit, or being kicked out of prep school for kissing the headmaster’s daughter, his teenage years would make even the worst teenagers look like angels.
But at 16, Grylls lost his godfather—who had been like a second father to him. The grief was too much for him to bear, and not knowing where to turn, Bear looked to God for comfort.
“I remember wanting to pray, but not knowing how to,” he recalled. Grylls climbed up a tree and cried out to God. “Will you be that friend to me that you were at five or six when it felt natural?” he asked.
It was that simple prayer, a moment of surrender that finally led Bear to once again “find his faith” in Jesus Christ, and rediscover what he had in his youth.
“It was no more complicated than that. And actually the amazing thing is that all God asks is that we sort of open the door and He’ll do the rest. So often we kinda hide behind our yearning for love and acceptance with loads of complicated theological questions, and actually once that’s stripped away, what we really are is just somebody who wants to have that relationship with your Father.”
Grylls says he found comfort in realizing that following Jesus wasn’t about the religion. In fact, Jesus was “the least religious person you’ll meet.”