Dear Rich,

I remember the first time I heard one of your songs. It was October 12, 1992. I was at the Great Commission School giving my testimony that morning. I told of my brokenness, abuse, rebellion, and my choice to follow Jesus. I was young, naive, and overly sensitive. A crazy funny smelling guy from Arizona who used to eat my Lucky Charm cereal said, “Dar, now is the time to just jump into God’s word. Dive in and see what happens.” Then my equally crazy VW bus driving friend picked up his guitar saying that the next song was for me.

I will follow you all of my days,
I will follow you all of my days,
And step by step you lead me
And I will follow you all of my days.

Step by step. Ah, I didn’t realize how hard and how easy that would be. How I would forget exactly how awesome of a God we love or how awesome it is to be loved by such a God. So, I’d try to run ahead or I’d get mad and stomp my foot, refusing to go forward.

It’s nearly 19 years since that day and that song goes through my head almost every day. It’s like the background music to my life. Sometimes I hear it louder than others.

Oh, I remember getting the phone call that you had died. My friend from Kansas told me. Is it ok to say that I felt so happy for you and so sad for the rest of us? I wonder if you were walking so closely with Jesus that He just had to have you with Him right then.

My heart is full. You have helped to make my heart full. I think I know what you’d say to that. Maybe you’d say you just work here. Or maybe you’d say that’s how you pray, in song and word. Or maybe you’d say nothing at all.

So this morning I wake up to one of your songs…oh wait, it’s really one of His songs, isn’t it? So, I wake up to one of His songs running through my mind and decide to share it on Facebook. (I don’t imagine that you’d have a facebook page if you were here today.) I didn’t know what floodgates would open when I posted that song. I didn’t expect anything. I didn’t think much about it, but guess what happened?

Many people listened, commented, and posted their own favorite piece from you. From there, more people commented and our hearts were filled. Our eyes were turned upon Jesus. The things of earth began to grow strangely dim. I forgot about my deep loneliness. I forgot that…well, I forgot a great many things because when I heard the music He gave you I saw Him. I knew His heart a little better. Tears came to my eyes several times today when I’d hear a song of yours or hear of my friend’s memories of you.

One friend wrote, “Rich’s songs sure create a sense of longing. What a good songwriter.” Ah yes, that’s what I feel. A longing in my soul.

Another friend posted her favorite songs of yours that I haven’t heard before.

Here’s the clencher. My best friend, who invited you to DQ one time, said that she listened to one of your songs and thought about me the entire time. Let me tell you, this friend really knows me. She knows me in way that you can only know someone when you’ve put years into the friendship and that girl has put a lot of work into this friendship. She quotes the lyrics,”There’s a wideness is God’s mercy, I cannot find in my own; and it keeps this fire burning, to melt this heart of stone; keeps me aching, with the yearning; keeps me glad to have been caught, in this reckless, raging fury, that we call the love of God.”

His reckless, raging fury, that we call the love of God.

So, I just want to tell you thank you for impacting the lives of so many people. For turning our eyes to Jesus when we can’t seem to see through the fog.

Affectionately,

Darlene

 

Ok, that video is from 1982 and it’s not my favorite rendition, but listen to that piano. And tell me, doesn’t he look like Keith Green?

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