Sometimes I Think of Abraham

Earlier this fall I spent time in southern Utah, a place that, among other spectacular sights, often has a clear view of the night sky. Surrounded by a cathedral of stone, attempting to remember constellations and their stories, I couldn’t help but hear the echo of familiar words: “Sometimes I think of Abraham / How one star he saw had been lit for me.” And I trusted, though it felt like hoping against hope, that these words were indeed true—that I was part of a larger story.

I don’t remember when I first encountered Rich Mullins, the man who penned these words. Some friends become such constant companions that life without them seems a strange thing to consider. Some of his more famous songs I certainly sang in church as a kid, and their lyrics and melodies feel older than memory. Today, Rich is one of my spiritual heroes—his music, words, and prophetic life have shaped my sense of the Christian faith inestimably.

In many ways, Rich’s music and life have been an anchor for my own journey of trusting in Jesus. In every season, while more and more people choose to stop walking in the Way, saints like Rich keep calling out: “Stay the course. Follow the ancient paths.”

Rich sings,

Sometimes I think of Abraham
How one star he saw had been lit for me
He was a stranger in this land
And I am that, no less than he
And on this road to righteousness
Sometimes the climb can be so steep
I may falter in my steps
But never beyond Your reach

The road to righteousness is steep, lonely, narrow, and rarely fashionable. Yet Rich and his music remind me that it is also beautiful, good, and true. That a life committed to following after the God of Jesus Christ is not the easiest, but the best. Not at all lucrative, but absolutely beautiful. Not popular, but true. Rich helps me see that there are many faithful companions on the journey, saints who shine like stars in the heavens, who have walked in obedience and faithfulness.

The lives of these saints—Abraham, David, Mary, Francis, Romero, Elliot, Nouwen, Mullins, and so many others—spur me on in this journey of faith. Because these are not merely distant characters or dead musicians, but because they are brothers and sisters in faith, whose stories we inherit, whose faith strengthens our own.

Nearly any time I see the night sky I hear, “Sometimes I think of Abraham….”, and I marvel at the fact that one of these stars—the same stars Abraham saw—has been lit for me. We are children of the promise, and God is faithful to his word. The old, old story is true.

Rich Mullins has helped me to keep to the old roads of faith. I thank God for my old friend Rich.

I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step You’ll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days