Last weekend a senior at Sickles High School, where my son Will is a sophomore, died what seems to be a tragic, senseless death. He was not a friend of Will's but was a close friend of several of Will's buddies on the drum line. As I listened to my son talk about that death this week, I was reminded of what a hard thing it is to deal with- and yet it is an inevitability for us all- in this world...
Rich Mullins talked a lot about death. When I met him in 1990, the song that he had written of which he was proudest was Elijah, which deals with death. At Springfield Friends Meeting in the early 90's many of the youth wore t-shirts which came from Rich which said, "Live like you will die tomorrow; Die knowing you will live forever." Rich believed that dying meant seeing Jesus in person. He was not afraid of it. He believed the scripture from John that you can read at the top of this page. He knew that one day he would be with God.
One of Rich's final songs was based on that scripture. That Where I Am You May Also Be appeared on the Jesus record, which was recorded and released by the Ragamuffin Band after his death. If you purchase the CD, you get two disks. One is a demo. Rich is in an old church recording some songs on a hand-held tape recorder. The other is the finished product of the Ragamuffins recording those songs, featuring many guest artists as well. The finished version of That Where I Am You May Also Be (you can listen at bottom) mixes both. Rich is singing as it opens; it is raw and unpolished. It then swells to a glorious chorus (featuring the voices of Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant) that seeks to remind us that if we trust Jesus, we will be together again in our Father's house. Rich sings the words of Christ to us when he says, "in this world you may find trouble, but I leave you my peace, that where I am you may also be." Death will be swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54). We can die knowing we will live forever!
Until that day, I take comfort in these words Rich once wrote about himself:
May God's promises contained in this joyous song give us all the hope to carry on.