Remembering Rich

It was September 19,1997, that I received a telephone call from my younger brother.  He had heard on the radio about an accident… a musician who was very special to our family had been killed that evening.  My brother had been with us when we attended Rich Mullins’ concert on August 14 – it was an amazing concert, but I had no idea it would be Rich’s final concert in his home state of Indiana.  I was thrilled to finally hear songs from Rich’s first musical, Canticle of the Plains, based on the life of St. Francis of Assisi (but set in the Old West).  I loved listening to the CD of Canticle in the days to come, and my favorite song was “Heaven is Waiting,” a song that was to become both haunting and encouraging after September 19.  That night, I stood beside the large oak tree in our back yard, stared into the starry sky, and wept… and as I looked up, I couldn’t help but think of Rich’s song “Elijah.”  When I leave I wanna go up like Elijah, with a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire, and when I look back on the stars, it’ll be like a candlelight in Central Park, and it won’t break my heart to say ‘goodbye.’  So as I say “goodbye” to Rich again tonight, I’ll share a blog post I wrote in 2007.

this entry was first posted on August 17, 2007

Bound to come some trouble…

About ten years ago this weekend, on August 14, 1997, I attended the most memorable concert of my life. My favorite musician, Rich Mullins, performed in Fort Wayne that night, along with his back-up group The Ragamuffin Band. I attended fourteen other concerts of his from 1984-1997, but this was my favorite, as I wrote in a concert review for the Rich Mullins mailing list.

Part of what made this concert stand out was the beauty of the music with the poetry of the lyrics, most of which I knew by heart. But what else? About two weeks before the concert (sixteen days, to be exact), I had received a definite diagnosis for MS. I didn’t know what this would mean, but as my husband and I were coming to terms with this (married for three years, living in a new community), the lyrics seemed to touch me even more deeply. Partway through the concert, Rich sang a song that I’d always liked, called “Bound to Come Some Trouble.” It was when he got to the bridge that my wise husband – you could tell he’d been a boy scout, as he’s always prepared – pulled out a kleenex or two for his teary-eyed wife. I think these words can speak to so many of us:

people say maybe things will get better
people say maybe it won’t be long
people say maybe you’ll wake up tomorrow and it’ll all be gone
but I only know that “maybe” just ain’t enough
when you need somethin’ to hold on to
there’s only one thing that’s clear –
I know there’s bound to come some trouble to your life
but that ain’t nothin’ to be afraid of
I know there’s bound to come some tears up in your eyes
that ain’t no reason to fear
I know there’s bound to come some trouble to your life
but reach out to Jesus, hold on tight –
He’s been there before and He knows what it’s like
and you’ll find He’s there.

I had first met Rich in 1984, when I was in the sixth grade and he had a concert at our church, staying at our home for the night.  As I grew, Rich’s music grew also – his first album actually came out in 1986, I believe. If a song is going through my head, half the time it’s one of Rich’s melodies.

When I wrote my concert review that August, I had no way of knowing that this would be Rich’s last concert in Indiana, his home state. Rich Mullins died in a car accident on September 19, 1997… but I was so thankful that he was able to remind me first about the trouble that comes our way. This song was on the 1989 album Never Picture Perfect, and that is what life is, isn’t it? We know that life isn’t “picture perfect” in family or health or so many things, but it’s nice to remember that though there’s bound to come some trouble, that ain’t nothin’ to be afraid of.