Capitol City

Skyline

My friend Matt asked, on twitter, for his fans to list their favorite song of his. As a singer/songwriter with a deep well of albums, the replies began to fly in.

As a fan and a friend, my mind immediately swirled back to a few years ago, when I was deciding about moving to Nashville, and I thought of the last song from his 2006 album.

That song entered my life in a season that felt very unsafe and unknown. I was leaving my hometown alone, heading to a place I did not know full of people I did not know, and I didn’t want to do it. But I knew it was the right thing, the God thing, even if it meant going alone.

No matter where I turned, God sang His reassurances to me. It wasn’t always on Christian radio, in fact- it rarely was. It was at obscure concerts in downtown Atlanta and quiet crooning from indie albums. It was radio commercials and worship songs and love songs and CDs that friends handed me on a whim. God was everywhere I didn’t expect to hear Him.

Matt’s song, Capitol City, is the one that has long been my favorite and was, to be dramatic and over-emotional, the song that felt like a life-preserver when the waves of doubt and worry and loneliness felt like I would drown.

I heard God in it.

“As you go your own way…. remember do not be afraid…

cause you’re right where you should be…. in Capitol City.”

I cried when I played it, and I played it a lot those last few weeks in Atlanta and those first few months in Nashville. I heard God say that He was right with me, that He would show His nearness whenever I needed Him to, that I did not need to be afraid.

If anything has been proven true in the last five years, it is this. Nashville is right where I should be. But I shouldn’t be surprised – God told me that a long time ago. 

Music does that. Lyrics have that kind of power, don’t they? No matter what they are written for or who it is about, when God wants to get a message across, He does it. And it can rescue us, heal us, carry us.

 

What songs has God unexpectedly used to speak to you?

. . . . .

By Annie Downs

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  1. 1

    Annie,
    The song and lyrics that have been inspiring me lately are “What If We Were Real” by Mandisa. I’ve ventured, since January, writing my blog and my favorite comment by a reader was one thanking me for my “real-ness”. It’s scary to be vulnerable, but I’ve found that’s just what God would have me be. Lyrics ARE powerful things!
    Blessings,
    Bev
    ps. Having moved around the country many times the scripture I’ve clung to is: Exodus 23:20: “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.”

  2. 4

    Annie,

    Most recently :

    Turn Your eyes Upon Jesus and On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand!

    So grateful for the truth of the Word in each of these songs ….
    Have a great day in the Lord! B.

  3. 6

    On our way to move to Orlando 10 years ago we were driving through Atlanta at night. the song by Jenny Owens came on the radio called “If You Want Me To”.

    Jesus sang it to me straight through Jenny. My heart was still scared, but I knew He was in it.

    And of course, He was.

  4. 8

    lately … the song that’s on rewind in my head …

    Jesus went to Calvary,
    to save a wretch like you and me;
    that’s love, that’s love.

    They hung Him high,
    they stretched Him wide,
    He hung His head,
    for me He died;
    that’s love, that’s love

    That’s not how the story ends,
    three days later, He rose again;
    that’s love, that’s love.

    Chorus

    Vickie Winans – Oh What Love

  5. 10

    The song I can’t stop humming is, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” The lyrics are so beautiful too. . .

    Great is Thy faithfulness, oh God my Father;
    There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
    Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
    As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

    Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
    Morning by morning new mercies I see.
    All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
    Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

  6. 12

    I’m stepping out on a limb here. Pink’s “What Do You Want from Me?”
    I know probably not what you were looking for, but as a survivor of abuse, the lyrics here gave me an opportunity to voice some of my anger and frustration at the people who abused me and those who didn’t protect me.

    Hey, slow it down whataya want from me
    Whataya want from me
    Yeah I’m afraid whataya want from me
    Whataya want from me

    There might have been a time
    And I would give myself away
    Oooh once upon a time I didn’t give a damn
    But now, here we are so whataya want from me
    Whataya want from me

    Just don’t give up I’m workin it out
    Please don’t give in, I won’t let you down
    It messed me up, need a second to breathe
    Just keep coming around

    More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/a/adam_lambert/

    • 13
      Anonymous says:

      I don’t think Annie or the rest of us r looking for anything except for people to be real. Thank u for the courage of going out on a limb and doing just that…being real. I like that song by Pink too, its words have deep meaning! :)

    • 14

      I don’t think Annie or the rest of us r looking for anything except for people to be real. Thank u for the courage of going out on a limb and doing just that…being real. I like that song by Pink too, its words have deep meaning! :)

    • 16

      I LOVE this Pink song! I’m with you- singing it to God changes everything.

  7. 17

    This was such a simple and powerful post, Annie. Thank you for reminding us to listen for God everywhere. He uses song in amazing ways to touch us. “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” by Christ Tomlin always has, and I suspect always will, touch me deep in that place that tends to like to forget where I was before Christ took up residence in my heart. “Like a flood, His mercy reigns…” chokes me up time and time again.

  8. 19

    Lately it’s been “Blessings” by Laura Story. It’s been a good reminder that everything that happens is for God’s reason not necessarily mine.

  9. 21
    Jen Russell says:

    Hi Annie!
    When I came to read my (in)courage e-mail today, I knew before I got to the end that it was you. You don’t know me but I feel like I know you. I just finished your book “Perfectly Unique” with a group of girls that I disciple. We all feel like we know you. So when I read in the blog today about moving to Nashville and your song, I knew it was you. (Yes, I did scroll down to see if was you, immediately!) Obviously your book made an impact but you came through that book. Just wanted to let you know that and hopefully bring a smile to your face!
    ~ Jen Russell

  10. 23
    Deborah says:

    Back in September of last year, I felt finally led to do the DTR talk with my guy friend who I had developed feelings for. The conversation did not go as I had wished but we were able to get through it and ultimately stay friends. However afterwards I was feeling VERY down and could feel myself sinking into that black hole of depression. I knew that God was going to get me out of it but it was just the worst feeling ever in the meantime because I felt so alone and unloved because I felt broken and weak. I went to church that Sunday, and one of the worship songs that was played was “Give Me Faith”. In the past when we sang it, I wasn’t a big fan and kinda tuned out whenever we sang it. But that Sunday, these lyrics stood out to me

    “All I am I surrender
    Give Me Faith to Trust What You Say
    That You’re Good and Your Love is Great
    I’m broken inside, I give you my life…

    I may be weak but
    Your Spirit’s Strong in Me
    My flesh may fail but
    My God You Never Will”

    Those words just hit me and I broke down sobbing in church. It was as if God was speaking directly to my hurt and pain and telling me his promise and what he wanted me to do. It’s now one of my favorite worship songs with a promise that I never want to forget.

    • 24

      Oh girl. The DTR with a guy best friend? I’ve been there. And our endings sound about the same. So I knoooooooow what you’re saying. Good song to speak truth to your (and my) heart.

  11. 25

    God has often used words of a song to encourage me. This past week we attended a Casting Crowns Acoustic Concert. The song “Already There” really spoke to my anxiety and confusion. I tend to be a worrier, that night I needed to be reminded that God truly is in control and I don’t have any reason to worry. While just about every song that night held some sort of meaning to me, this song in particular was extra meaningful. It eases my anxiety greatly when I take time to stop and remember that where ever I am headed in life, God is “Already There”, and I know from our past that He is always faithful and that I can always count on Him!

    “I wish I knew how
    All my fears and all my questions
    Are going to play out
    In a world I can’t control

    When I’m lost in the mystery
    To You my future is a memory

    ‘Cause You’re already there
    You’re already there
    Standing at the end of my life
    Waiting on the other side
    And You’re already there
    You’re already there”

  12. 27

    The song “Grace” by Laura Story has been an inspiration to me over the past few weeks. I’m reminded daily how much I fail God but the word to this song remind me how much he loves me in spite of it all.

  13. 29

    Chris Tomlin has a song out and i forget the title but it is about God of Angel-Armies. Soothes me right now.

  14. 32

    LOVE this post Annie! (Music posts are some of my faves, and you and your wondermous writing voice make them even better :) I have been listening to Sandra McCraken’s “Go” from her new album. I enjoy the lyrics, and seem to be needing the motivation to move forward with my dreams. It was a joy to spend time with you at Blissdom my friend!

  15. 34

    Hi Annie,
    I love this post. I love music and often find messages from God in them. The most vivid in my my mind happened over four years ago. I’d just received some devastating news. When I got into my car a song came on my cd player that I knew had to be God with a message just for me. It said, Hold on, it’s gonna be all right. God’s got a blessing and it’s waiting for you…” In that instant I knew that no matter how bleak things looked my heavenly father was with me.

  16. 36
    Phyllis Dillard says:

    Hands down – WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS! I sing that often – loudly in the car or quietly at bed time:)

  17. 38

    A song by Nichole Nordeman called “I AM”. My friend sent it to me years ago, and in the middle of my world falling all apart, as I was in the biggest fight with God, questioning if he was real and asking a million Why questions and making prove yourself statements, I get this CD in the mail. My friend asked me to listen to it. that is the ONLY reason I put that CD in the car that day. It was 2 days after finding out there would be no healing for my mom from cancer, my marriage was a mess, I was a failure as a mother, I had lost a friend in a heartbreaking way, and was ready to give up on God altogether. And this song started playing. He answered every question and offered a way to ease the seemingly unending pain I had been in emotionally for 2 years. I ended up pulling over because the sobs were so hard, and I re-dedicated my life to him right there on the side of the road.

    Now that I am in the middle of another “shaded valley” time, the lyrics of this song pop in and out of my head. I have even had conversations about this song a couple times in the past few weeks. I wrote out my testimony and this was part of it. God is making sure I remember that I am never alone. he never leaves me and he is ALWAYS, EXACTLY, PERFECTLY what I need him to be. He is giving me pools of light in my shady spot, and reminding me that valleys don’t go on forever, and that he is leading me to the I AM, every step of the way.

  18. 41

    Annie, do u have a link to hear Matt’s song Capital City?

  19. 43

    The two songs constantly on repeat in my life have been “Come Away” by United Pursuit and “So Good to Me” by Cory Asbury. It’s a steady reminder that with God whatever I have written off in life is never too late, and that He has been faithful in so many ways in my life so I can trust His goodness now.

  20. 45

    The two songs that have been on REPEAT for me is “I Knew What I was Getting Into” by Misty Edwards and “I Surrender” by Cornerstone. Both songs remind to keep my focus on God and stop trying to control things. And on those bad days when I might not have shown my best side, to remember God still loves me. He already ready knew I was going to make that bad choice and he still would have gone to the cross and die for my sins. Both songs help me put the Father of Lies on mute and allow the truth of who God is to come dwell in my heart.

  21. 47

    I don’t listen to a ton of Christian music, but the Nichole Nordman song “I am” just totally undoes me and then puts me right again. Every time.

    Ack! Just looked up the lyrics and I’m teary-eyed again. I love it. Love calling on the names God gave himself and remembering that he is all things to us exactly when we need it. Elbow healer? Check. Secret keeper? Check. Shepherd, Savior, Pasture-maker. Lord and King, beginning and the End. I am.

    Woosh.
    Great post. (I remember listening to Capitol City in 2006 too, btw.)

  22. 49
    Birdie Cutair says:

    “Whom Shall I Fear?” (God of Angel Armies) – Chris Tomlin
    I know who goes before me
    I know who stands behind
    The God of Angel Armies
    is always by my side.

  23. 51

    Philip Phillips – Home. God tells me He will make this place my home, no matter where He moves us, which He has. “Just know you’re not alone. I’m gonna make this place your home.” Of course the home isn’t a physical place here on earth, but a place I will always have with Christ. He will always be with me… and you :)

    Annie, you are so brave. I’m not sure how old you are, but i am thinking close to my daughters age. She is 23, grad of Belmont & lives in Nashville. Our son is at Lipscomb.
    You are an inspiration to so many. You are young and willing to follow God, no matter what and I love that! I hope you are being blessed in Nashville and I am sure God is using you mightily. How exciting to see what God opens up to you and for you!
    I have a funny pic of our family at The Southern Steak and Oyster with Matt Wertz in the background. My daughter pointed him out (no, she would never actually point, Lol) and we took a pic. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. It was very attractive. Blessings

    • 52

      Thanks for your kind words, Dale! I’m 32, but I hang with the college ministry at Cross Point, so maybe I sound like a college kid? :) A compliment either way. Your kids are in great universities.

  24. 53

    As I am undergoing t4reatment for breast cancer the hymn Rock of Ages means so much especially the first few lines:
    Rock of Ages cleft for me
    Let me hide myself in Thee
    Yes I am hiding in Him to give me the strength to carry on. The otheer hymn is Leaning on His everlasting Arms. Yes I am leaning on Him
    At this East6er time How deep the Father’s love for me. The greatest love song ever written. Blessings to you as we celebrate Easter and the greatest love story ever.

  25. 55
    Stephanie says:

    The song for me lately has been “Promises” by Sanctus Real. It is such a good reminder to go back to what is real and true when we are facing things that feel impossible.

    Sometimes it’s hard to keep believing
    In what you can’t see
    That everything happens for a reason
    Even the worst life brings
    If you’re reaching for an answer
    And you don’t know what to pray
    Just open up the pages
    Let His word be your strength

    And hold on to the promises (Hold tight)
    Hold on to the promises (Alright)
    Jesus is alive so hold tight
    Hold on to the promises

    All things work for the good
    Of those who love God
    He holds back nothing that will heal you
    Not even His own Son
    His love is everlasting
    His faithfulness unending
    Oh, if God is for us who can be against us
    So if you feel weak

    Neither life, nor death
    Could separate us
    From the eternal love
    Of our God who saves us

  26. 57

    “I Will Wait for You” by Mumford and Sons.

    • 58

      Oh listen. You don’t EVEN want to get me started about Mumford and Sons. They are my all-time favorites and I hear God in SO many of their songs!

      • 59
        Amanda Califa says:

        YESSS!!! you get me! haha falling in love with that band lately. The song (album really) is a worship album called “higher+wider+deeper: raw moments” by citi pointe live.
        Girl..woah. It brings such a peace. one of my favorite songs is “three nails”. I even was inspired to write a kind of excerpt (if you will) from that song.
        Check. It. Out.

  27. 60

    I wasn’t going to comment, but then I read the question.

    All of Rich Mullins.
    For about 15 years!

    Now, random hymns.
    Thanks, I really love God speaking to me through music too.

  28. 62

    I was restless before surgery one night and kept humming “One Thing Remains” by White Flag. When my alarm went off in the morning, that song was on the radio. I knew God’s love would be with me during my surgery and recovery.

  29. 64
    Katrina Silverdahl says:

    A song that has really spoken to me within the last year is Jesus in Disguise by Brandon Heath. It just makes me think about how often we pass by people who could be Jesus and how often we don’t say something to someone because we are afraid of what they will say or what they will think of us. It also makes me think about how society portrays men and women today. We should live our life like Jesus is in-front of us and take action whenever he calls us to. I have really been trying hard to share my gifts with others and doing what God asks of me when he asks even if it is out of my comfort zone.

  30. 66

    The Burning Lights CD from Chris Tomlin is amazing!

  31. 68
    Beth Williams says:

    10 years ago God played a wonderful song for me. I was heading to my boyfriend’s, now our, house for a dinner date. I was nervous. Only a few down the road with radio playing Christian music–what should come on but “God is in Control” by Point of Grace. As soon as I shouted out the lyrics “God is in Control” all fear left me. I knew this was going to be a wonderful evening.

    Now I’m clinging to “God Gave me you”, Rich Mullins & hymns!

  32. 70

    I feel the same about lyrics.

    “When words fail, music speaks.”

  33. 72
    AmandaB says:

    God so often speaks to me through music…I remember gobbling up all of Matt Wertz’s albums around 2005-2006 during that really uncomfortable transition between college and ‘real’ adulthood — balm to the soul! We used his song “Wesley, Why?” as one of the songs in the slideshow of pictures at my cousin’s funeral, too. A song that has long spoken to me when I need a reminder of how things are going to work out is U2′s “Where the Streets Have No Name” — it’s one of my ‘heaven songs’. I love all the old hymns, too. Current songs include “Blessings” by Laura Story, “Home” by Phillip Phillips, and “I Am a Seed” by David Crowder*Band. And this may sound weird, but I even had a Led Zeppelin song inspire some thoughts a few weeks ago: “…oh, Father of the four winds/ come fill my sails/ across the sea of years/ with no provision but an open face/ along the straits of fear…” That verse in “Kashmir” reminded me that God will always steer the ship and will show me His face and His purpose, even when life is uncertain and scary. Thanks for such a reflective post!

  34. 74

    Thank you for sharing about your own fear and how God was faithful to you in that, even letting you know He was wih you along the way. I’m in a place where I am experiencing this too, amidst the fear. For me, the song I am clinging to right now is “Reason to Sing” by All Sons & Daughters. This part specifically:

    Will there be a victory
    Will You sing it over me now
    Your peace is the melody
    You sing it over me now
    Oh Lord
    Will there be a victory
    Will You sing it over me now
    Oh Lord
    Your peace is the melody
    You sing it over me now
    I need a reason to sing
    I need a reason to sing
    I need to know that You’re still holding
    The whole world in Your hands
    That is a reason to sing

  35. 76

    Thank you for sharing about your own fear and how God was faithful to you in that, even letting you know He was wih you along the way. I’m in a place where I am experiencing this too, amidst the fear. For me, the song I am clinging to right now is “Reason to Sing” by All Sons & Daughters. This part specifically:
    Will there be a victory
    Will You sing it over me now
    Oh Lord
    Your peace is the melody
    You sing it over me now
    I need a reason to sing
    I need a reason to sing
    I need to know that You’re still holding
    The whole world in Your hands
    That is a reason to sing

  36. 77

    Thank you for sharing about your own fear and how God was faithful to you in that, even letting you know He was wih you along the way. I’m in a place where I am experiencing this too, amidst the fear. For me, the song is “Reason to Sing” by All Sons & Daughters. This part specifically:
    Will there be a victory
    Will You sing it over me now
    Oh Lord
    Your peace is the melody
    You sing it over me now
    I need a reason to sing
    I need a reason to sing
    I need to know that You’re still holding
    The whole world in Your hands
    That is a reason to sing

  37. 78

    Thank you for sharing about your own fear and how God was faithful to you in that, even letting you know He was wih you along the way. I’m in a place where I am experiencing this too, amidst the fear. For me, the song is “Reason to Sing” by All Sons & Daughters. This part specifically:
    Will there be a victory?
    Will you song it over me now?
    Your peace is a melody
    You sing it over me now
    I need a reason to sing
    I need a reason to sing
    I need to know that you’re still holding
    The whole world in your hands
    That is a reason to sing

  38. 79
    Melissa says:

    “Times” by Tenth Avenue North. It’s helping to heal my soul right now…

    “My love is over, it’s underneath, it’s beside you, it’s in between…” His love is everywhere…4 dimensional…

  39. 81
    Brittany says:

    Thanks for this. I’m recording in June and spend a lot of time going over songs, reworking them until the feel complete, until the words are just right. It’s a much needed reminder that our work as (song)writers, people who name things, makes a difference…that the sometimes painstaking work is truly worth it…that it really does have power to influence lives. Just what I needed to hear tonight.

  40. 83
    Anonymous says:
  41. 85

    We sang a hymn recently that I had forgotten, but I now love it! It is “O Love, that wilt not let me go.” Especially the 3rd verse:

    O Joy that seekest me through pain,
    I cannot close my heart to thee;
    I trace the rainbow through the rain,
    And feel the promise is not vain,
    That morn shall tearless be.

    And the 1st verse really grabs me too:

    O Love that wilt not let me go,
    I rest my weary soul in thee;
    I give thee back the life I owe,
    That in thine ocean depths its flow
    May richer, fuller be.

  42. 87

    I was dealing with a lot of fear and anxiety…. Reading Psalms 121 really encouraged me…. Then, one night, I tried to fall asleep listening to my iPod, and Kristan Stanfill’s song “Always” came on… the lyrics were like God singing right to me:

    Troubles surround me, chaos abounding
    My soul will rest in You
    I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm
    My help is on the way, my help is on the way

    Oh, my God, He will not delay
    My refuge and strength always
    I will not fear, His promise is true
    My God will come through always, always

    I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
    I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
    I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
    I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
    From You Lord, from You Lord

  43. 89

    “Jesus, take the wheel” by Carrie Underwood. When it first came out, I was experiencing much change in my life and it let me know to let go and let God. Every and I mean every time I really needed that song, I would turn on the radio and there it would be. It was a very strong sign to me that Jesus was in control and that everything would turnout, maybe not the way I wanted, but the way Jesus wanted it to. There are many songs that talk to me, The latest one is “Beer with Jesus” by Thomas Rhett. It tells about sitting in a quiet booth, having a tall one and asking Jesus the questions you want to ask Him. Do you hear my prayers and His reply. It also says trying to make the beer last as long as possible. Country songs are not all about sins.

  44. 91

    I guess I’ll preface my song by saying–I’ve had lots of really really hard times because of a traumatic brain injury leaving me now with atrophy of my right front lobe and sporatic injury all over so lifes so different. Part of the injury and it grows worse is deep deep sorrow and agonizing tears and wailing. I go to Jesus all the time. Songs of my childhood come flooding back easily yet I do not remember the now very well. And I hurt. My head. I have no fight and flight so I can get so scared of strangers. My brain does not process all people say so it fills in for me, and its not always right! So it’s hard to be a wife as I’m normal and then not. But strangely, since inhibitions are lifted, I easily share my love of Jesus with doctors, nurses, people in bathrooms as I travel to appointments. I openly ask a young teen at McDonalds last Saturday night on our way home as our break–I ask him if he’s a Christian (he and friend are 17) and I see confusion, so I say Do you love Jesus? Is He your Savior? For He will guide you on the path you should take for your life. May I pray for you? He stands so his friend does too, and I hold this burly football player young boy’s hand on top of his and use other boys shoulder for balance. My husband watched. The boy I’d talked to had his eyes closed but it was the other boy who looked the most amazed that a middle aged woman with a walker speaks to them and prays. I share with a doctor about Jesus, another one about communion and my other doctor told me to read Job as the world does not see my injury so they have no clue. So I grow weak. My head swims daily. And I heard “Worn” a couple weeks ago and said, Lord that’s me. I’m worn. But letters come saying You made a big impact when— or another says You make a difference in my life as I know it’s hard for you yet you write me and it means a lot… But today I’m worn I wish I could be me and make potato salad and go to church but huge crowds and all the noise and stimuli are so hard… But then on this new path I would not have met so many to bring awareness to TBIs and how God uses me a shutin even when I cry I’m Worn

  45. 92

    I enjoyed your letter so much. I was just voting on some songs a couple of days ago & posted one by the Police on my FB (Every Breathe You Take). WOW ~ That was my Bridegroom, Jesus singing to me…Every breathe you take – Every move you make – Every vow you break – Every claim you stake – Every smile you fake…I’ll Be Watching You. Then it goes on to say how His heart is broken, looking for you, wanting you back…Just how He feels about the lost. I Love It…He shows up Everywhere!!! Lets me know He is Always with me! Amen?!

  46. 93
    Allison T says:

    One day I was very frustrated and I had Josh Turner playing. The song “I was there” came on and the last line is “If you’re feeling alone look up I’m the One who answers prayers, And I’m always there”. I just thought wow God, I’m listening.

  47. 94

    Dear Annie,

    Your piece of writing was a wonderful way of reaffirming the different means through which God speaks to us. Thank you! Have you read Joy Dawson’s book “Forever Ruined for the Ordinary”? I think the book has a similar spirit as this piece of yours.

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