BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#397 - "I Don't Deserve You" by Plumb
Tiffany Arbuckle-Lee shares how the highs and lows of parenting inspired her to pen this song about undeserved love.
 


With chart-topping hits across multiple genres over the course of her career, Plumb presents yet again another brilliant studio collection. Titled Need You Now after the six-week No. 1 hit, "Need You Now (How Many Times)," the album delivers Plumb's signature sound in top hits, "One Drop," "I Don't Deserve You" and "Beautiful." Plumb's infectious artistry has been featured in major motion pictures and TV shows. 
 
I remember the first time I heard Plumb's song "God-Shaped Hole." I immediately connected to the catchy melody and poignant lyrics. Throughout her career, she has continued to entertain and challenge listeners looking to fill that "God-shaped hole in all of us."
 
"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 Arbuckle-Lee about her emotional Prodigal Son-inspired song "I Don't Deserve You" from Need You Now
 
Please share the personal message behind the song "I Don't Deserve You." 
 
This song was written from a place of probably the most pure inspiration that you can find. I wrote a song for my Blink album called "In My Arms" inspired by my son, Solomon. I had not yet written a song for my next son, Oliver, who just turned six years old. 
 
I was talking with Matt Bronleewe about something Oliver had done. He is so magnetic, and people are drawn to him. His eyes are so big and blue and they have speckles in them that provide a transparency when you look at him. He has this vibrant joy and happiness that just exudes from him. At the same time, he is also my Dennis the Menace. If anyone is going to test and try my patience, it's Oliver. He's had multiple burns and chipped teeth, minor concussions, bruises, cuts, and moments where I'm afraid to take him to the pediatrician because I worry what they'll think of me as his mother. He's very adventurous and a risk-taker, and he lives life to the fullest. I don't feel like I deserve to be his mother. I feel so lucky to be his mother. 
 
At the same time, I am so challenged and pushed to the limits by him that I've had some of my most not proud moments as a Christian, a woman and a mother where I've been pushed to my breaking point. From something as simple as the example of him spilling his milk in our newly cleaned minivan. I affectionately call my van the Red Rocket. I told him not to squirt his milk and I explained to him that you can't spill your milk in the car because it can be sour and make the van smell, to my then three-year-old son. 
 
I'm not on the road for a minute, and he is spilling his milk and laughing and so excited about it. I'm sure I felt hormonal and imbalanced to not just overreact, but overreact times ten, but I pulled over in a Jiffy Lube, got out of the car, opened the van door and pointed at the man changing the oil and said "do you want to go home with that man?" Oliver started bawling his eyes out. "My son doesn't act like that; maybe you need a different parent." 
 
I emptied the rest of the milk on his head and said "how does that feel?" I know that's horrible. I didn't back off on the air conditioning and kept going as he cried the whole drive. I put him down for a nap. After the door was closed, I bawled my eyes out and thought, "What's wrong with me?" He is a child, he is precious, and I don't deserve him. He is everything I'm not. He has so much in him that I'm inspired to have and here I was losing it over something that was truly spilled milk. 
 
After he woke up, I wept over him and said I was sorry. It's really not okay for mommy to act like that, would you please forgive me? He immediately said yes. That's what inspired this song.
 
Please tell me about the Bible verses you used in writing the song. 

Luke 15:21-24: "When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech:  'Father, I've sinned against God, I've sinned before you; I don't deserve to be called your son ever again.' But the father wasn't listening. He was calling to the servants, 'Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We're going to feast! We're going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!' And they began to have a wonderful time."
 
What's the take-away message for listeners? 
 
It's been three years, and Oliver still remembers that incident. I hope in my heart he remembers my apology more than more overreaction. He's the inspiration in the lyrics, "You're the first face that I see," because he's the first one awake. He's the last one on my mind at night because he's the one that worries me the most. At the same time, my identity isn't wrapped up in my children, because that's not healthy. Although I wonder if God's purpose for me is to be Oliver's mommy. God reminds me that I'm His, and I'm Jeremy's wife, and to remember that Oliver needs a little extra overseeing sometimes and there's a reason that God chose me to be his mother. Of course for my son Solomon and daughter Clementine as well. 
 
Oliver is that person that pushes my limits but in a way that helps me grow. I've become closer to God through him. In the second verse of the song I say, "You bring me to my knees" and at times I'm on my knees praying to God to not kill my son's beautiful sweet spirit and at the same time protect him from danger and teach him to make good choices, maintaining who God created him to be. 
 
I've fallen to my knees often, and that's not a bad thing. All of that to say things that push us to our knees, burden us and we suffer from and carry, draw us closer to God in those moments. We need God all of the time. Why in our human nature do we wait for something hard to draw near to God when He is literally a breath away? "I Don't Deserve You" is something pure about my child. 
 
Other than telling you that Oliver inspired the story, you can relate your own story to your relationship with God. I don't deserve His love, but He gives it to me anyway. When you write about the purest kind of love that you'd do anything for, even die for, I'm quickly reminded of how that connects to how God loves us so much that He gave us His Son who was willing to die for us. 
 
When we walk away from our Father, He comes running after us. We have a language in the church where we say in our pursuit of God. The truth is that God is pursuing us and He has a romantic affection for us. God is chasing us and all He wants is for us to stop and turn and say yes to Him. It's a scary thought but we are our children's example of God's love. In those moments, I need to stop and think that I'm representing the Almighty. He shows us grace, mercy and kindness, but He's firm. God forgives. We need to forgive.
 
Lyrics:
You're the first face that I see
And the last thing I think about
You're the reason that I'm alive
You're what I can't live without
You're what I can't live without

And never give up
When I'm falling apart
Your arms are always open wide
And You're quick to forgive
When I make a mistake
You love me in the blink of an eye

I don't deserve Your love
But You give it to me anyway
Can't get enough
You're everything I need
And when I walk away
You take off running and come right after me
It's what You do
And I don't deserve You 

You're the light inside my eyes
Give me a reason to keep trying
Give me more than I could dream
And You bring me to my knees
You bring me to my knees

Your heart is gold and how am I the one
That You've chosen to love
I still can't believe that You're right next to me
After all that I've done

I don't deserve Your love
But You give it to me anyway
Can't get enough
You're everything I need
And when I walk away
You take off running and come right after me
It's what You do
And I don't deserve You 
 
Need You Now has been one of my favorite albums to savor in many years, as the combination of Tiffany Arbuckle-Lee's incredible vocal range and her compelling and relevant lyrics have never been more perfectly combined than with this stellar and flawless masterpiece. Every Plumb album is an immersion into her life. Each is unique, tied to the emotions and circumstances that inspired it, and yet each is timeless, identifiable as the outpouring of a singular artistic vision. Every song on this album is excellent, and Need You Now is the best album I've heard this year.
 
The stark and majestically beautiful song "I Don't Deserve You" showcases Plumb's wonderful voice. Don't miss how she soars with eagles on this dramatic song. It brings me to tears as I pray along with Tiffany with the incredible lyrics of "I Don't Deserve You." Tiffany wrote the song directly to her song Oliver, and as a father of three daughters, and a chosen son of my Heavenly Father, I can't listen to this gorgeous song without being moved. 
 
The picture of God's unconditional love for us after all that we've done wrong is profoundly captured in the chorus: "I don't deserve Your love / But You give it to me anyway / Can't get enough / You're everything I need / And when I walk away / You take off running and come right after me / It's what You do / And I don't deserve You." 
 
We sometimes put up a wall between us and God, and He just wants us to come home to Him. Many of us feel that we're not worthy of being near God and that He's using a checklist to determine our worthiness. That's not the Gospel. The Good News of the Gospel, which this song perfectly portrays, is that God accepts us no matter what we've done. 
 
As the song says, "I still can't believe that You're right next to me, After all that I've done." What a wonderful, encouraging Truth. That's the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This song is a great way to prepare your heart for the undeserved gift of grace which we celebrate at Easter. Grace could stand for God's Riches At Christ's Expense. "He became sin Who knew no sin, that we might become His righteousness." Amen.
 
(You can watch the music video 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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