“When they arrive at the gates of death, God welcomes those who love him.” – Ps. 116:15 MSG
I remember where I was* in 1982 when I heard the news that Keith Green died. Though I’d never met him in person, his life message of radical discipleship shaped me more than the sermons I sat through in church most Sundays. He was the real deal.
I remember the “oh no…” roller-coaster drop I got in my gut in 1997 when someone told me that Rich Mullins had died in an accident near Bloomington, IL. His music flowed from his life of poverty, simplicity and service. He inspired me to remember what discipleship was supposed to look like. He, too, was the real deal.
And yesterday, I had another one of those moments when I learned that Michael Spencer had gone home after a brief, intense battle with cancer. Spencer’s prodigious output of blog posts and podcasts under the internetmonk moniker have been touchstones in my spiritual life over the last several years. His intelligence, honesty, humor and willingness to ask lots of hard questions of God, of his fellow Christians, and occasionally, of the world at large have both comforted and confronted me. He poured out his soul and shared the mess of his journey all while doing his day job at a rural KY boarding school. His insistence on Jesus-shaped spirituality in all pointed me (and at times, provoked me) to think like a disciple. He was the real deal.
When I am tempted to discouragement at the puddle-shallow Christianity I see around me (and in the mirror!), I am grateful…very grateful indeed…that the real “narrow road” deal has been modeled for me by the likes of these unlikely disciples.
* Glad you asked. Sitting in the parking lot of a strip mall in Mt. Prospect, IL.