I listened to Rich Mullins for the whole of seventeen hours on a road trip recently. I drove across the America he loved and wrote about, the America he was driving across when he went home to His God and Friend.
He was a pastor poet and I wept when he died. I was sixteen and knew nothing of death or how it would visit my own home just a few years later. Life seemed invincible for my best friend and me, but that autumn night we wept on the floor of my bedroom while the local radio station played Go Out Like Elijah. We tried to make sense of fiery chariots and Jeep Cherokees, but death doesn’t make sense, and I don’t think it is meant to.
I have had many teachers in my life and I remember them all by name or lesson, but of them all, Rich Mullins has been the constant. He taught me that theology is found in winter wheat and pheasants show us God is on His throne. Rich taught me Jesus is unimpressed with our houses or treasures and faith without works is like a screen door on a submarine.
I forget to preach the gospel to myself often enough—especially in times like the past few weeks when my soul has felt the battering and bruising of life and all its circumstances. But Rich preaches it to me still.
His book An Arrow Pointing to Heaven was as aptly named as any I know. That guy pointed and still points to heaven more than almost anyone I’ve encountered. Sometimes I ask the Lord for a fraction of his mantle, that modern barefooted prophet.