This past Wednesday we buried my father-n-law. Needless to say there was much sadness and grief as he was laid to rest. It is natural to miss loved ones when they are gone. We all wish that we could remain with those we love for more years than we are given here on earth. And yet, when we say farewell to friends who have lived their lives trusting in the saving grace Jesus, we KNOW that such passings are actually a cause for celebration. My senior pastor at Springfield Friends Meeting, the late Max Rees, once told me that it is expected that we will miss those who go before us. But for believers, mourning them is a selfish act. Would we really want them to come back from walking hand in hand with their Savior? Would we want them to continue to feel pain instead of experiencing the ultimate healing? Of course not. We grieve for our own loss. And it does hurt.
Rich Mullins talked a lot about death. When I met him in 1990, the song that he had written of which he was the proudest was Elijah, which deals with death. At Springfield Friends in the early 90's many of the youth wore t-shirts that 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, the same scripture preached at Posey's funeral. Like Rich, he knew that one day he would be with God. That day arrived last Saturday .
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:
"Someday I shall be a great saint- like those on the windows of magnificent cathedrals. I know this, not because of any evidence I have produced myself, but because of the witness of His Scriptures, because of the evidence of His grace, and because of the testimony of this sky that washes over me at dusk."
May God's promises contained in this joyous song give us all the hope to carry on.