Yesterday marked the 17th anniversary of Rich Mullins‘ tragic death. The recent film on his life, “Ragamuffin” highlighted the darkness with which he struggled. It is well worth the watch. And will be an encouragement to many who have struggled, even as it was to myself. Although I’m not aware of any major failure in Rich’s life, his struggle with alcohol is prevalent in the film, as he fends off the demons of not feeling accepted by his father, an issue which I think was eventually resolved toward the end of his life.
It is good to have a witness of steadfast faithfulness over a lifetime. The rest of the story of any such witness will note many trials, perhaps one or a few rather overwhelming ones. God’s grace present to help people do well over a lifetime is an encouragement to us all. Mother Teresa might be one prime example that comes readily to mind. Others like Corrie ten Boom, Billy Graham, Dallas Willard, and the list could go on and on. Such would all say that whatever good was in and came out of their lives was because of God’s gift of grace in and through Jesus.
But then you have the broken who come along such as Rich Mullins. Rich’s mentor Brendan Manning comes to mind here. Our churches should be full of them, although sad to say I’m afraid that’s too often not the case. I would consider myself among their number.
It’s not that such aren’t steadfast, and more precisely we could say can’t become steadfast. Not at all. In fact I think oftentimes these folks have a sense and glimpse of the gospel that the rest of us may lack. Yes, I know I included myself among them. Yes, I have struggled with my darkness, too. I think in some measure all the faithful, true believers in Jesus struggle to some extent with brokenness simply due to our sin. We don’t have it all together because we’re not all together ourselves.
We need the witness of both the broken and the steadfast. We who struggle with our demons are often more given to seek faith even when it seems so far removed from us. But really no one is that far removed from the struggle. There is no doubt that some struggle much more than others. And we need to hear and be encouraged by the witness that by God’s grace we can remain faithful over a lifetime.
In the end in and through Jesus we have the same witness. God is faithful in spite of everything. God will see us through, will see everything through in and through Jesus.