Where were you when Kennedy was shot? I can't identify with that question; I wasn't there back then. I was shocked to find that Princess Di was killed, but she wasn't a part of my life. I saw her pictures, but she had no impact on me. On a quiet, Sunday morning, I checked my e-mail to find a message entitled "Home to the Father." What was I reading? I shook. On September 19, 1997, the man who wrote "Awesome God" died.
Rich was driving with Mitch McVicker on the way to a benefit concert in Wichita, Kansas. It was not yet ten o'clock at night when their Jeep somehow went out of control. They were not wearing their seat belts and both men were ejected from the vehicle. An approaching tractor-trailer's driver viewed the accident and tried to swerve from the debris which stood in the middle of the lane. He struck Rich Mullins, who was killed instantly.
He had encouraged my faith and wrote lyrics that stunned everyone by their profound acknowledgment of God's glory. This has been hard for the people who loved him. One person said that he was his hero and he built his ideals so highly around him. Another said that he thought Rich was where he was meant to be: with the Father. Yet another hoped that "Rich Mullins" would not become the Christian John Lennon.
My pastor said that he was probably writing songs with David right now. Think about it. Everything Rich has lived for has been revealed. Faith has become sight. He is hearing the angels give praise to God. He's singing to Simon Peter and John and seeing Jesus at the right hand of the throne of God. Rich is now hearing the unspeakable words that Paul spoke of in II Corinthians 12:4.
Go back to the boy on the farm in Indiana. He was afraid of the dark. He was a child with an apparent imagination. He thought the headlights of cars projecting onto his bedroom wall at night, were ghosts. He thought his dad's barn was the secret headquarters of the Communists. He saw birds turning to raging, man-eating creatures at night. Venomous rats came out of sewers. Like us, he grew up and the real world hit him in the face. He had fears; he experienced pain like us. He was not exempt from temptation.
Rich had a dream to be a teacher. After almost a decade of being a popular Christian artist, he moved to Arizona where he taught at a Navajo reservation to share his faith, by his gift of music. He recently became a playwright with his "Canticle of the Plains." I think he expected to be old. When he wrote articles for Release Magazine and when he spoke in interviews, he projected what he would be like in old age. He knew he had outgrown his youth, and dramatically envisioned himself becoming senile in his old age.
Yet we cannot believe that this man has left us. Do not set your hopes on people, although they will live with a fervor for proclaiming God's Word and encouraging us. Rich told us, "But mostly, I hope you [will] know Jesus through whom God has wildly and ferociously loved us."
If you would like to get into Rich Mullins' music or continue building your Rich Mullins collection, here is a review of all of his albums, so you will know what to buy. (http://members.tripod.com/~allisoncm/rich/completereview.html)
This tribute has been visited times since the 4th of July, 1998. It was originally created in September, 1997, but I did not put a counter up.
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