Back at Smith's farmhouse, the light from a cloudless January sky diffuses warmly into the room. The big hardwood floor is mostly empty except for couches that crowd around a hewn stone fireplace that faces the afternoon sun.

Smith nurses the surgical incision on his knee with a bag of ice. It's a new year, and the new surgery promises greater athletic agility for him in the years to come.

Now that the tempest of 1999 has passed over him, he's taking a closer look at who he is and what he's done.

"Is my legacy that I'm selling lots of records?" he asks. "I sure hope not, because that's not what I want it to be."

Like the crowds who get lost in worship at his concerts, he is feeling the call to go deeper into the presence of God. His dream is to take lots of people with him.