BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#371 - "Need You Now (How Many Times)" by Plumb
Tiffany Arbuckle Lee shares how her personal struggles with anxiety birthed this song.
 


Plumb is made up of Tiffany Arbuckle Lee, who was born in Indianapolis and grew up in Atlanta, singing in church and school. At 19, she began working as a backup singer, in part to earn money to help pay for nursing school. She began doing studio work and then touring. College went by the board and she eventually moved to Nashville, where, a month before her 21st birthday, she signed with a small label. When she was urged to write, she turned to Matt Bronlewee--an original member of Jars of Clay who happened to be her next-door neighbor--and the two hit it off. 
 
"It was perfection," she says. "His rule was that there were no rules. If I thought something sounded interesting, then that was my signature." 
 
Bronleewe would later describe Tiffany's unique sound as "raw, lyrically introspective vocals floating across an epic soundscape." The two wrote almost everything together on her first record, which she recorded in 1997 then as a band collectively known as Plumb--a name taken from a song by Suzanne Vega. More than a decade into her recording career, she is not tied to the perks of stardom, but she is aware of the power of what she's doing.
 
"Fame and fortune are fleeting," she says, "but real faithfulness, making a difference in a person's life, lasts for eternity." I had the great opportunity to interview Tiffany about her emotional hit single "Need You Now (How Many Times)" from her upcoming new album Faster Than A Bullet
 
Please share the personal message behind the song "Need You Now." 
 
Luke Sheets and Christa Wells are the co-writers of this song. I've known and loved Christa as a friend for close to 20 years. She is amazing. She has a God-given gift and people should check out anything she's part of, not just with Plumb. 
 
The song was inspired initially about an emotional ordeal I had in high school. I was taken back to a place where I struggled with anxiety, and I still have that struggle. In high school, it manifested itself through panic attacks. They were terribly painful stomach cramps that were embarrassing and debilitating, and I would find myself hiding in the restroom quoting Isaiah 41:10 over and over to myself. 
 
God's promise that He is with me, and He won't give me more than I can handle, and I would wonder why my anxiety was so overwhelming. Not just shortness of breath and a sweaty brow, but severe stomach cramps. I would feel like I was dying, and I would actually say to God, "Just take me." It was so unpredictable, I could be in the middle of taking a test, on a date, at camp, out with girlfriends. Because of that, I was even more anxious. It became a real handicap for me. I would cry out to God, "Please, help me." 
 
Doctors couldn't fix me, so prayer became my only safety net. God was always there; even in my difficulty I was still breathing in and out. As that would continue, God started to replace my fears with hope. It took years and years, and through medicine and more importantly more confidence in my Creator that would make me less and less anxious. I developed more endurance to make it through the next panic attack. That's a big part of my story. That's one of my wounds.
 
Please tell me about the Bible verses you used in writing the song. Any life verse?

Isaiah 41:10: "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
 
Psalm 46:10: "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"
 
… and Lamentations 3:22-23: "Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness."
 
What's the take-away message for listeners? 
 
As I got older, from the anxiety I developed a struggle with depression. I wondered if there is a punch card, where I worried if God would tire of my asking Him to help me. I am certain that a lack of faith and a lack of true dependence on Him contributes to my anxiety and panic. 
 
We live in a fallen world. It took me a long time to realize that putting all of my faith and hope and trust in God and not myself is where I find true peace. I pray that this song will give people struggling with any of these same issues or any of their own wounds that need to be healed, some hope and some peace. More recently this past winter I had my faith put to the test yet again. The enemy brought an attack on me and our home and as  I fell to the ground I heard my own song, "Need You Now" playing. I needed to know that God was there and He was present, and that He desires for me to call out to Him. Well, God showed up and He protected and provided and gave me hope that He would restore. And He Did. 
 
God is so faithful, and the enemy failed. I told Him I would praise Him until my very last breath. As I prayed for God to speak to me in His still small voice, He did. I learned that I need to stay out of God's way and let Him work. My responsibility is to trust Him and no matter what I am going through, God doesn't tire of my need for Him. I am so excited to share this song. God is faithful, He has restored and is healing me. I want to give God all of the credit and all of the glory!
 
Lyrics:
Well, everybody's got a story to tell
And everybody's got a wound to be healed
I want to believe there's beauty here
So, I guess you're tired of holding on
I can't let go, I can't move on
I want to believe there's meaning here

How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need You
God, I need You now.

Standing on a road I didn't plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I'm trying to hear that still small voice
I'm trying to hear above the noise

How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need You
God, I need You now.

Though I walk,
Though I walk through the shadows
And I, I am so afraid
Please stay, please stay right beside me
With every single step I take

How many times have you heard me cry out?
And how many times have you given me strength?

How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need You
God, I need You now.

I need You now 
Oh I need You
God, I need You now.
I need You now
I need You now.
 
My testimony is that I credit my salvation to the biblical messages "behind the songs" in Christian music leading me to seek Jesus, starting with the debut Jars of Clay album. The songs "Liquid," "Love Song For A Savior" and "Worlds Apart" emotionally caused me to seek a personal relationship with Jesus for the first time. A few years later, I was listening to an album by the band Raze in my car and at the end of the album after the song "Always And Forever," the lead singer gave his personal testimony and asked the listener to say the sinner's prayer with him. I pulled over to the side of the road and sobbing uncontrollably I gave my life to Jesus that day in November 1999. 
 
This song and the message and Bible study "behind the song" is the reason I write this series and ties in with my testimony of how the biblical messages in Christian music led me to Christ. I can't get enough of the musical hook, Tiffany's vulnerable and sincere vocals and the extremely poignant lyrics. I love how Tiffany took a moment of personal anxiety and panic and turned it into a prayer of surrender to God. 
 
Being married for 18 years and having three daughters, I've seen how women tend to beat themselves up about moments of anxiety. We raise our hands to celebrate and in surrender. We can lift up our hands in confidence to God and know that His mercy is unfailing. His love is never-ending. He is our refuge and our strength. God's ultimate will is not to bring affliction upon people, but to restore us so that we may experience His unfailing love. 
 
This is a wonderful song of encouragement and prayer to ask God to break your pride, live redemption's story, and move closer to who we're meant to be in Christ. Allow God and His Holy Spirit to change you to be more like Jesus, and move closer to His glory. The chorus of the song says it all: "How many times have you heard me cry out, "God please take this"? How many times have you given me strength to just keep breathing? Oh I need You, God, I need You now." God wants us to know that He's faithful to complete what's He's started in all of us who've put all of our hope and trust in Jesus for our salvation. Amen.
 
(You can listen to this amazing song here.)

NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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