A gifted arranger and composer, Brandon arranged and conducted for OneRepublic’s upcoming iTunes session release and will be touring with them during the summer of 2014. As a songwriter, Brandon often collaborates with Brent Kutzie of OneRepublic and Integrity writers Travis Ryan and Jennie Lee Riddle.
I had just moved from California to the Riddle’s home in Nashville, where I would spend the next eight months. When I arrived, I was emotionally raw. I was dealing with the realization that the woman that I had loved for six years and had hoped would be my wife wouldn’t be. Though not as drastic as cancer or death or a tornado, a broken heart still produces sorrow. My friend Tim once told me that “Sorrow understands sorrow,” that it’s not about which situation is worse because both situations produce the same result. Jennie knew my sorrow and as we talked one evening, something about the conversation inspired me to sit down at the piano and play the chorus melody.
The next morning, Jennie and I sat down to write and she asked if we could use that melody. We write in Google Docs, so whatever is typed shows up on the other person’s computer in real-time. We sat there for a long time, staring at our screens and trying to find the lyrical direction of the song. Eventually, Jennie typed “I Stand Before Almighty God Alone.” When I saw the line, I was cut to the heart. It simultaneously honed in on the pain of my present reality and showed the goal of that sorrow: a closeness of relationship with God like Adam had in the garden, unhindered by any weight. The song took three days to finish and a great deal of it was spent with God, listening for the right words.
Writing “I Stand Before Almighty God Alone” was one of “those moments”. I had gotten stuck and it took something as powerful as a song to move me into a new place. The song has been costly and relentless. It asks me to invite God into the deepest places of pain in my life. It demands that I be vulnerable when I’d prefer to put up walls. It tears down any semblance of an idol.
I live in newness but I don’t have the benefit of seeing the end of this story. I don’t have the perspective of Joseph as the second in command of Egypt. I don’t have the name Israel instead of Jacob. I don’t have the benefit of standing on the mountain of God with His people. What I do have is hope: the promise of God’s presence in my circumstances – in the darkness of prison, in the pain of the limp, in the wilderness between the Red Sea and the Promised Land. Calvary is breaking my mourning as I wait for resurrection.
Author of the acclaimed Top 5 CCLI song “Revelation Song,” Jennie founded New Nation Music as a result of discerning the need for the Church to have scripture-based doctrine, written upon both heart and mind and to cultivate generational unity and authentic respect in the Family of God.
I typed “I Stand Before Almighty God Alone” into the blank space knowing the journey that would begin. I’m reminded of so many saints who have gone before with stories of their own encounters with God alone. Peter stood before Almighty God alone in the utter failure of betrayal, beholding mercy, and receiving a confirmation of his election as he was questioned by the Lord, “Peter do you love me? …Feed my sheep.” The woman caught in the act of adultery found herself before Almighty God alone as her accusers were silenced and she beheld mercy – alive and forever transformed by grace. The accuser who bravely dropped the first stone to the ground did so because He determined to stand before God alone. His was a costly decision to publicly admit his own sin, identify with an outcast woman, and choose to walk away from his friends and peers. Noah stared at every board as the eyes of God and man stared at him. He made the decision to make an ark in spite of the jeering of gawkers, his own doubt and unbelief, and his tired body. He made the decision to stand before Almighty God alone. Mary yielded her rights and everything she believed to God who does the impossible, beyond what could be imagined or conceived. She stood before almighty God alone full of her Savior. We are forever grateful.
I’m reminded of my childhood spotted with impurity and the ones who believed it okay to rob innocence from a girl. I’m reminded of the One who restores by His word and His blood. I deeply understand the reality that whomever has been forgiven much, loves much. I now stand before Almighty God alone, having released and pardoned those from whom I demanded an account. I am the one made free as a result. This song leaves me no way out but freedom. I yield my need to cast the blame. I drop my stones. He fills my empty hands with His own. This is enough. “I stand here with my God alone.”