The other day my friend Violet sent an email with one of her amazing works of art attached. It was a beautiful picture of a deer drinking from a brook. Some of the words to Marty Nystrom's popular song "As the Deer" were included on the painting. I loved it.
Psalm 42 is one of my favorite Psalms and this song was written as a result of how God touched Marty with this Psalm. I love to tell the story of how this song then touched my life. Little did I know that a few years after this happened, Marty and his wife Jeanne would become our best friends. I'm so thankful for the way God brings us friends.
In April of 1995, I was on the song team at a Walk to Emmaus retreat, playing my guitar and singing with the group. I am definitely NOT a soloist so I was perfectly happy to sing melody and occasionally add some harmony. Our song team leader (also named Marty) asked if I'd be willing to sing a solo since all the other song team members were sharing a song.
I told her "Absolutely not. I can't sing like any of you. I'm fine simply singing background vocals and playing my guitar." During one of our rehearsals she suggested I learn the song "As the Deer". Although it was a very popular song sung in churches all over the world, I had never memorized the words or really even paid attention to them.
I found the melody to be right in my vocal pitch range and I felt I could pull it off. I made the other song team members promise they would coach me and help me do my best at the retreat. So they marked the music with places for me to breathe and helped tap out a good rhythm so I didn't sing too fast.
On the day I was to sing the solo we rehearsed in the huge sanctuary of the Methodist church where the retreat was held. I sounded so much better than I had when I practiced in my home. The piano echoed and bounced off the stained glass windows and the soft strum of our guitars added a beautiful sound. It truly felt like we were in heaven in the atmosphere of this beautiful place. Our plan was that I would sing this song later in the afternoon during our healing service.
God had a different plan. The next event after our rehearsal was a talk given by one of the pastors and it was held in the "talk room". This was where all the retreat attendees sat in groups at round tables and listened to most of the talks. Before each talk the song team always played the songs requested by the speaker.
As we tuned our guitars we realized the requested song was "As the Deer". Our song team leader looked at me and said "Gigi, you're on!"
Panic struck. My music sheet with breathing and cadence notes scribbled all over it were in the sanctuary on my music stand. That room made me sound like a song bird. This stuffy room with poor acoustics made me sound like the rookie singer that I was. My heart was pounding so hard it was all I could hear in my ears.
I turned and said, "Please, I can't do this." She smiled and said "God will help you, just sing." Marty began playing and there was nothing else I could do but sing. My voice cracked and I was very nervous. I got through the first verse.
"As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after You
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship you."
Everyone joined in at this part and it sounded like a hundred angel choir. There were harmonies coming from the other women that blended together in a beautiful melody.
You alone are my strength, my shield
To you alone will my spirit yield
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship You
At this point I was overwhelmed with the presence of God. I looked at the banner representing this particular retreat. It had a cross with a beautiful jeweled crown laying on the arm of the cross. It read "Our God is an Awesome God".
As we started to sing the next verse I looked at the cross and the crown and I was overwhelmed with tears of understanding.
You're my friend, and You are my brother
Even though You are a King
I love You more than any other
So much more than anything."
I realized that Jesus was the King of Kings and his Crown of Glory was laid down for me on that cross. You are my brother.....even though you are a king. I love you more than any other. So much more than anything.
By then I was crying so hard I couldn't sing any more. The other women carried on to complete the song.
Then as our song leader Marty played the piano, we all praised and worshipped the King. All of us were overwhelmed by the sense of God's presence. We were thirsty for His presence and Marty Nystrom's song escorted us to that place. After about fifteen minutes we prayed and the pastor began his talk.
Marty - Thank you! God has gifted you with song writing and book writing and we are all forever thankful. Check out Marty's book at http://www.amazon.com/ It's called "Don't Mess with Moses." Marty has written hundreds of songs too. Check out his music at www.worshipmusic.com/martynystrom.html
Violet - Thank you for the reminder of the fact that Jesus is as close as a brother - even though He is a King. Check out Violet's blog at http://www.violetskiles.blogspot.com/ There you'll find her using the amazing gifts God has given her.
I am ever so thankful for the friends God has graced into my life.
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