This Is How God Used Rich Mullins to Change My Life.
At the age of seventeen I got Saved at a Baptist church. At first I was like, "I'm going to be a good Christian and God is going to be very pleased with me." From the moment I got Saved I made up my mind that I was going to be a good person and never do anything bad or wrong again, ever. I was going to be just like this girl that I knew named Tabitha, who was a Christian and never seemed to do anything wrong.
The very next day I went to school, smiling and happy about the new me. I walked up to my friends and said, "Hi!" I didn't yet tell them about my church experience. First I wanted to see if they would notice the change in me.
They didn't notice a change in me. But I noticed a change in how I felt around my friends. I noticed that I started to feel bad about doing some of the things that I normally did with them, like gossip about others and lie to teachers. Those things were wrong. I wondered, Am I going to have to get new friends? I didn't want to give up my old friends.
It wasn't very long before I did one small wrong thing: I agreed with someone when they said something bad about someone else. I felt bad about it, but I said to myself that I would do better next time.
Then I did one more tiny wrong thing: I made someone angry with me. Then I did one more small wrong thing, and another and another until I gave up at trying to be good.
Then I went to college and I did all sorts of things that were wrong. I went to bars with friends and I drank and I partied, etc.
Then after I dropped out of college and moved back in with my parents, I began to question who I was. I didn't even know who I wanted to be. Did I want to continue being the person I was at college? Not really. I liked the fact that I became an outgoing person in college, but that was really the only good thing that I could say about my college persona.
Did I like the God-fearing person that I was in high school? Yeah, that was a good image for me. It was one that I could be proud of, anyway. I was tired of hiding things from my parents. I was tired of lying and worrying about being caught whenever I did something wrong, and during that short time in high school I remember being able to go to sleep without fearing anyone or anything. My preacher had said my sins were cleansed the minute I got baptized, and from that moment until the moment I did something wrong, I lived guilt-free. It was great!
But could I ever go back and be that person again? Yeah I could go back to that church and "re-dedicate" myself, I guess. But was that as good and as cleansing as the first time I went up to the altar? Will I ever be forgiven of all the things I did in college? I didn't think so. If I were the one who created me, I don't think I would want to forgive those things.
I figured God was probably a lot like a parent. I know that when you do something bad around your parents, you get lectured about it and you tell them that you are sorry. And at the moment you really are. But then you find yourself doing it again later and your parents always say, "You weren't really sorry if you went back and did it again. Saying that you're sorry isn't going to work this time."
So I figured it worked that way with God, too.
But yet I couldn't continue being the person that I was in college. No, I was broken now. Heart-broken because my boyfriend had broken up with me. And broken in general because I'd lost my chance at a higher education and my freedom and was now back at home with my parents and depressed.
So the broken person that I was started looking for spiritual guidance. I had started working at Wal*Mart and was talking to people there about God. And I had started listening to Christian music. Was trying to, anyway. I actually kinda found Christian music to be boring after listening to so much rock and pop music for all those years. It was hard now to listen to such slow songs but at least they were comforting.
I got a lot of spiritual advice from people at work but they were all saying such different things. One person said I needed to confess and repent and then I'd be okay. One person told me that because I was raised Baptist and not Catholic that forgiveness should come pretty easy for me. Because I didn't have to go to the church to confess like they did. I could just ask for forgiveness at home and be forgiven. I asked that person about repentance and they didn't know what I meant by that.
Some of my friends didn't think it mattered what you did morally. Whether you were good or bad, there would be no continuation of existence after death anyway, so it wouldn't matter. Or, if your soul did continue to exist, that it would exist in a "purgatory" that was neither bad or good. And that you'd stay there until your friends and family prayed you into Heaven. So, according to them, I should just do whatever felt good because if I didn't then this life would be over and I would no longer have my chance.
One of the people who believed that was a guy at work that tried to get me to have an affair with him. I do have to admit I was tempted. And after all the confusing things I'd been told about religion I had convinced myself that even if there was a God then He would understand if I did something wrong because of how confused I was. He couldn't really blame me for not doing the right thing if I didn't know what the right thing was... right?
As I said, I had gotten into Christian music by this time. It was getting easier to listen to, I guess because I was just getting used to the slower beat. But there were three songs in particular that actually had a very good beat and sounded pretty good, and I said I would definitely buy that album if I ever found those songs. The titles of those songs were Creed, Calling Out Your Name, and Sing Your Praise to the Lord.
You know how radio stations are. They hardly ever tell you who sings a song, unless that song is relatively new. I searched on the Internet for days to try and find out who sung those songs. It was hard for me to find them because at the time that I was doing my search I didn't even know the name of the first song. The word "Creed" was nowhere in that song. And when I did a search on Sing Your Praise to the Lord it said that Amy Grant sang it and maybe she did but that wasn't the version I was looking for because the one I heard was sung with a man's voice.
Then on one particular day when I decided to search for these songs again, I found an article about a band called "A Ragamuffin Band". Thinking they were the ones who were credited with having sung those songs, I looked for an album by them but didn't find one. Then I discovered that A Ragamuffin Band was the background singers and instrumentalists who played and toured with lead singer Rich Mullins. Oh, Rich Mullins, I had heard of that name before. It was the name of the man who wrote the song Awesome God that I had sung while in church choir.
So I did a search on him and found plenty of albums. Now which one do I choose? I finally decided on the album titled Songs. I ordered it and requested to have it shipped to my house.
When I went to work that night I was asked to put out some new CDs that had come in that day. One of them was titled Here in America and I was stunned when I saw that the name of the artist was Rich Mullins! Wow, I finally knew what the man looked like. Here was his picture on the cover of this CD and boy was he a terrific-looking man!!! I couldn't wait to buy this CD! And come to find out, it included a bonus DVD that would have him and A Ragamuffin Band singing those three songs that I'd been searching for, for so long! What luck!!!
I bought that CD the minute I got off from work and listened to it on the way home. Rich Mullins told these funny and cute little stories before singing some of the songs that he sang! He was a funny man! I liked him! A lot!
And then when I got home and put in the DVD, oh, I fell in love! I knew which one he was the minute he walked up to the microphone. My eyes were fixed on him. He looked great, he sang great, oh and when he smiled... I just melted!
Again, he made me laugh with his stories. Sometimes, though, he would get quiet. And serious. And he would look up. As if he was looking at God Himself. And then Rich would look at the audience in a loving and tender way, and tell them about how much God loved them. I felt like Rich was talking directly to me.
And then he said something I will never forget.
"If you want a religion that makes sense..."
I listened carefully. Maybe this was the answer I'd been looking for. This man was about to tell me which religion to believe in.
"Then Christianity isn't for you."
I was shocked. I'd never heard anyone say that before!
Then Rich went on to say:
"But if you want a religion that gives life,"
I did, I did!
"Then I think this is the one."
Ah, my answer! Now I knew what to believe. I didn't care about anything making sense because until then nothing was making any sense to me anyway. Yes I was trying to make sense of it all but now I just wanted to focus on what Rich Mullins had and if Rich Mullins had Christianity then that's what I wanted too!
Rich Mullins became my mentor. I listened and followed everything he said. I bought all his books, DVDs, magazine articles, everything I could get my hands on!!!
Come to find out, this man is no longer living. He died in a car accident in 1997. How incredibly sad that is! I'll never get to see him in concert. Well, not here on earth anyway. But I was beginning to believe that I was going to meet this man in Heaven. Yes, I was going to one day go to Heaven! I finally knew who I was and where I was going in life.
I still had a lot of questions. But Rich Mullins had answered them all! For instance, I didn't know how to pray. I'd never really been taught how to and I was envious of how easy the people at church made it seem. They used all sorts of big words and scriptures and stuff in their prayers that left me completely lost.
But then I watched this concert that Rich had did in Lufkin Texas only a few months before his death. He was speaking to the children in the audience when he said: "Bear in mind, children, that they listen to you because you are kids—not because you are right. That's how our Father listens to us... We never understand what we're praying; and God, in His mercy, does not answer our prayers according to our understanding, but according to His wisdom."
That was the moment when I was able to begin praying freely without having to worry about what my prayers sounded like.
And remember all those worries that I'd had about being good? Thinking that I couldn't mess up at all if I was going to be a good Christian? Rich Mullins taught me that there is a huge difference between Christianity and morality. He said:
"It's just that for so many people that I know, Christianity's this matter of ... it has everything to do with morals. Christianity is a religion about morals. And they will even talk about Jesus. And they will say kids need to know about Jesus so they won't smoke, drink, or dance, or go with girls that do, and all that kind of thing. And I kinda go, 'That's not why people need to know about Jesus. The only reason—the only possible excuse for talking about Jesus is because we need a Savior.'"
And Rich also said, "We're not Saved because we're good. We're good because we're Saved." Now I tell people that when they want to become religious they shouldn't focus on thoughts like, "Today I won't do anything wrong." Instead they should be saying, "Today I will follow God." Because if you just follow God and talk to Him and ask Him to help you change into the person He wants you to be... then He'll do it! You probably won't even notice the change yourself. You'll be too busy focusing on loving God and meanwhile He's focusing on loving you and making you more like Him.
Very rarely is a person able to change simply because they wanted to do so. People make New Years' Resolutions constantly and by March most of them have forgotten all about their resolutions. We all mean to do good but we all slip and fall. God is different. You give something over to God and He will take care of it forever. He can break any bad habit you have and help you to establish Godly ones.
Rich Mullins taught me how to love my friends without judging them. Rich Mullins taught me how to forgive myself for my past sins. Rich Mullins taught me how to let go of everything that was in me—the good and the bad—in order to become God's. To further explain that point, let me tell you what Rich said in the video titled Pursuit of a Legacy:
"My ambition to be a 'good guy' is a fleshly ambition. When Christ calls us to take up our cross and follow Him, a lot of us think that what that means is we're supposed to lay down our vices and we're supposed to cling to virtues. But I think that unless Christ is Lord of our virtues, our virtues become dangerous to us and dangerous to the people around us. I think that when Christ calls us to take up our cross, what He means is you must die not only to whatever vices are in your life - which He will eventually kill out - you must also die to whatever virtues are in your life. Your life is not valuable because you're an articulate speaker. Your life is not valuable because you're a generous person. Your life is not valuable because of any of that. If we empty ourselves of everything, and allow God to be present, then it's no longer us, it's Him. Then it becomes a spiritual thing. And that which is born of the spirit is spirit. That's when I think Christianity really begins to make sense."
So you see, Christianity does make sense. It makes sense to a person that has truly given themselves to God completely. It makes sense to a person that has quit worrying about themselves and what they do long enough to stay focused on God and what He does. Don't fret about the bad things you do. Instead, focus on the good things God does, and you will see life in a much clearer light.