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BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#516 - "Closer to Your Heart" by Natalie Grant
Natalie shares her desire to draw nearer to Jesus--the foundation of this new tune.
 


Natalie Grant's album Hurricane blends everything I've always enjoyed about her music ministry; emotional ballads including "Burn Bright" and "When I leave the Room," exciting pop songs, "Closer to Your Heart," "Hurricane," "Whisper," "This Is Love" and "Dead Alive," and the worshipful celebrations, "For All of Us" and "In The End."  We previously discussed "Hurricane" for a behind the song devotional. (You can read that here.)

"Closer to Your Heart" establishes the electronic dance musical flow found in several songs throughout the rest of the album and you can physically feel the emotion in Natalie's vocals. In a slam out of your speakers song that could be played alongside any of the top songs in mainstream music, Grant lays down some of her most vulnerable lyrics to open the song praying, 
"Here I am once again crying out on the floor."

The song beautifully blends weighty lyrics with pop sensibilities. It is one of the best pop songs I've heard this year. I had the opportunity to interview Natalie in-person about her great new song "Closer to Your Heart." 

Please tell me the personal story behind writing this song.

The opening line of the song is "Here I am once again crying out on the floor." That's literally where I was. Once again I felt like I was on my knees crying out to God. For the first time in my life I was dealing with post-partum depression. The place I found myself was that my father had been diagnosed with cancer and my nephew had a drug addiction and I felt an overall heavy storm cloud in my life. I love this song, because when I talk about the themes of this album they are heavy and sad, and an overwhelming angst, but this song is the antithesis of that. It is fun and you want to turn it up every time you listen to the song. It makes you happy and you want to hear it loud. I loved the fact that I could talk about such a weighty subject with a hope filled track. I think that's what was important to me to convey throughout the album. Yes I was in a storm, like many of us, questioning the Lord and His Sovereignty, and things you don't want to admit as a Christian, knowing that He was in control but wondering why these things were happening. Hope is the thing that promises us that the sun will shine again. That may sound like a cliché, but it really is true. I wanted music that showed hope more than angst. 

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song? 

Psalm 30:11-12 (The Voice):
You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing; You stripped off my dark clothing and covered me with joyful light. You have restored my honor. My heart is ready to explode, erupt in new songs! It's impossible to keep quiet! Eternal One, my God, my Life-Giver, I will thank You forever. 
 
Acts 13:22 (NKJV): "And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will."

Romans 8:28 (NIV): "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV): "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart."

Revelation 21:5 (NKJV): Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

What is the takeaway message?

These lyrics to me are the cry of my heart. I'm crying out to God, asking Him questions. The Lord has shown me through the process of the album that He's done everything that He needs to do. We ask Him to do things and He shows us that's He's done His part. Now, we need to believe what He says is true and to have faith in what He says and take hold of His hand that He's reaching out.

Quit asking God to get you out of your storms, know that He's there and take hold of Him. I think that's what this song captures. The way to find wholeness is to actually have God help me to believe that what He says is true. For Him to break me down, make me new, to bring me closer to His heart.

I know for me when young girls hear something negative spoken about them, they carry that for so many years. I can talk to a middle-aged woman who was told many years ago that she was less than, not good enough, not smart enough, not capable, or not pretty enough, and that stuck with her. I hear about abandonment, and broken marriages, and for so many of us we feel like we are defined by our past, by mistakes we've made or our shame.

Those things we say about our lives, crying out on the floor about my circumstances are things I said about my life, but they don't need to define my life. If you really understand that we can be defined by who God says we are, not what we say about ourselves, God has a destiny and a plan in the midst of our pain. He uses our pain to teach us.

We learn more about the character of the God that we serve in a storm than on a mountaintop. When we are in the middle of a storm, that's when we learn who God is and what He says about us. When we understand our purpose, we learn He can turn it into something beyond our wildest imaginations. If you let Him, He will show you in all of our junk that He has made you for so much more than this. We are all a part of a bigger plan.

Lyrics:
Here I am once again
Crying out on the floor
Trying to make sense of this 
Emptiness once more
I can't do this on my own
I'm in too deep I should have known
I know You've made me for so much more than this

I've been running so fast
Trying to get back to the start
I've been holding so tight
But it all just comes apart
Pull me in, break me down
Make me new, and bring me
Closer to Your heart, heart
Closer to Your heart, heart

Help me be unafraid
Find my place where You are (where You are)
Oh, You've always been enough
You're the light in the dark (in the dark)
Afraid of giving up control
But You are there when I let go
Taking this brokenness making it beautiful

I've been running so fast
Trying to get back to the start
I've been holding so tight
But it all just comes apart
Pull me in, break me down
Make me new, and bring me
Closer to Your heart, heart

Ohh, ohh, make me complete
Ohh, ohh, You're all I need
Ohh, ohh, bring me
Closer to Your heart, heart
Closer to Your heart, heart

I've been running so fast
Trying to get back to the start (to the start)
I've been holding so tight
But it all just comes apart 
Pull me in (pull me in), break me down
Make me new, and bring me
Closer to Your heart, heart
Closer to Your heart, heart
Closer to Your heart, heart


To me, her new album represents the best of Natalie's illustrious career, seamlessly bringing together all of her elements of infectious melodies, stellar vocals, and worshipful lyrics in a flawlessly produced album. The album is all about finding hope in our times of storms. Hope is what keeps the lights on, and our ultimate hope is Jesus. His goodness is proclaimed in every song. 

This album is a reminder that even in our "hurricanes," a better day is coming. The clouds are going to part. This album is not full of Christian clichés, but instead is loaded with fresh offerings of praise that every believer can celebrate. The song order is also meant to take listeners on the journey with Natalie from "crying out on the floor" to "we win in the end." This album is loaded with radio hits, but more importantly it takes listeners on a spiritual journey learning truths about Jesus that changes and moves you.

I really love the lyrics, "I know You've made for so much more than this." That is everyone's story, and in particular it reminds me of Esther. In her story, her cousin Mordecai says in Esther 4:14b (NKJV): "Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Being reminded that we've been made for so much more than our circumstances in moments of uncertainty, pain and suffering is a wonderful takeaway message for this song and reason to celebrate the lyrics: "You are there when I let go, Taking this brokenness making it beautiful." To be closer to God's heart, He wants to hear us cry out to Him: "Pull me in. Break me down. Make me new." Amen to that!

(Watch the lyric 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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