“And I awoke in the house of God.”

That is my favorite line from a Rich Mullins song. Rich’s writing made you think. It made you want to go deeper in your spirituality. That line is so pregnant with meaning and truth that it begs the listener to think. Even if it means missing the next few lines of the song, think.

I still remember the day I found out that Rich Mullins died. It was just a small blurb in the newspaper I was reading. (I think it was the USA Today, oddly enough.) I still remember the sadness that I felt as I reread the brief article. Rich felt like a friend and a mentor. Yet, I had never met him.

I think that feeling of connection came from the intimacy with which he wrote. When you heard a Rich Mullins song you knew you were hearing something from the heart. It was Rich who pointed out to me that “the other side of the world is not so far away.” Rich introduced me to one of my favorite books- “The Ragamuffin Gospel”. It was Rich who pointed out the danger of “trendy religion that makes cheap cliches out of timeless truths.” It was Rich who pointed out the majesty that can be found in something as simple as the color green.

I’m sure I have many misconceptions of Rich. That’s what happens when we only see people in magazines, on stage and in videos. I remember how disappointed I was when I heard him once mention that he was not a big outdoors person. I had imagined him to be a an avid outdoorsman, someone that I could go camping with or hike through the desert based on some of the album photos (I think they were in “World as Best as I Can Remember It Vol. 1” but I can’t remember for sure.)

I could list dozens of Rich’s songs that I love, but it would end up being a near discography of his entire work. However, one of the biggest influences Rich had on me was not in any of his lyrics, it was in his life. Rich’s success as a Christian musician could have afforded him a wealthy lifestyle. He sold a lot of albums and drew crowds at concerts everywhere. Yet Rich took a vow of poverty and only took a small salary, insisting that everything else be given to the poor. This idea still challenges me to this day. I know very few Christians with that kind of faith.

Rich is definitely one of those people I wish I had met. Instead, I’ll just sing along with him…

“But the Father of hearts and the Maker of noses 

And the Giver of dreams He’s the one I have chosen 

And I will follow Him.”