“Long nights and Bad Hotels”

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This is a photo of the old church by Rich Mullins house in Belsberg, Tn. This photo is all that remains. The building was torn down. I don’t know why, but I think of this photo all the time. The movie started with this church. I day dreamt about the movie starting with this church. As I’ve spent the last two months on the road, and I spent most of my time in church buildings, rental cars, and hotels. I’ve thought about something my friend Dave said. The subject line is a quote from Dave Mullins. That’s pretty much how he described the experience of making the movie. I agree. They were some long nights, even some horrible ones, and even worse hotels. But didn’t bother me much because I didn’t sleep much anyway. That was almost two years ago. This two month revival of vagabonding around the country brought back sweet memories of making the movie, but even deeper memories of traveling the country with fellow ragamuffins and wannabe evangelists. It was a joy seeing almost everyone I love. I almost felt like I saw everyone I knew. It was a wonderful whirlwind. I’ve often been in torment for the last 14 years because I thought I had to have life figured out. I thought I was supposed to have my 10 year plan. It seems like everyone was always telling me that. From high school, to college, to job interviews everyone wanted to know what my plan was, what was it that I wanted to do with my life…but I never quite knew how to answer that question. Then you hear those “religious” types say things like “God called me” or even worse “God told me”…do I think it’s real? Do I think it happens? Sure, sometimes. Not all the time. Sometimes folks throw that expression around like “God bless you” or “Amen” and they don’t even know what they’re hoping God blesses or what they are Amen’ing…but I digress… I think perhaps God does tell some people or calls some people…but it’s never happened to me. I guess I’m not that important. I supposed if God called me, or told me to do something I’d have to be pretty important. I mean, he’s God, and I’m not. Maybe it’s not a big deal to hear a call from God, or have some 10 year divine plan, maybe, just maybe it’s a better thing to pray for daily bread, forgiveness, leading me out of temptation, and delivering me from evil. Maybe instead of praying for something special, I should just pray how Jesus taught us to pray, and maybe, just maybe that’s special enough. 

I’ve had two hearts. My dreams have always been this combination of creativity, and a passion to preach Jesus. For the past 14 years, maybe longer, I’ve tried to kill one and pursue the other. In Ragamuffin, I’ve seen the fruition of both. Those very few that remember the color green, might have seen the inklings of what is the fruition of Ragamuffin. One just cost a lot more. The Color Green was such a large chunk of my life, and when you’re a kid it’s your whole life. Ragamuffin took four years, but as your older time goes so fast, it all feels a bit arbitrary. 

Traveling around from church to church, plane to rental car, rental car to motel, speaking, showing the movie, speaking, saying hi to a few familiar faces, making a few new friends, and then the next day doing it all over again has been some of the best moments of my life, and yet in those quiet moments loneliness and depression are near. The shadows aren’t too far away. They know how to find me. They’re at bay. For now. I’ve quipped from stage that I’m 33, that really dangerous age, I hope I make it. I’ve meant that in a way. The movie is the fullfillment of everything I’ve ever wanted, and seeing all these familiar faces, friends, and loved ones I’ve often wondered if God is about to kill me. Hopefully not yet:-) But one day death will come. Probably sooner than any of us want, are ready for. But it will happen. I think of that Rich line, our tag line for the movie, “In the end it won’t matter if you have a few scars, but it will matter if you didn’t live.” 

I have no idea what’s next. But I don’t know that I want to know. I’ve tried that, and it never worked for me. Maybe we’re not supposed to know. Making plans has never really worked for me. I hear it works for some. Seems boring to me. But boring isn’t such a bad thing. Especially when life seems closer to hell than to heaven, we might even pray for a little boring.

I never thought I’d find myself in this churchy church world again, and in some ways I’ve never left. I’m shocked by most of these conversations I have in these churches. I’ve experienced the hate, legalism, judgmental religious goppity-goup that is everything the world has come to expect from Christians. Yuck. But I’ve also seen some pastors and others that are the real deal. Genuine. Humble. Honest. Broken. Loving. And It’s encouraging, really encouraging. Hard core people that really love Jesus and love people. 

Sometimes when I stand in these church buildings, and talk to these churches I think about that picture. In 100 years will this church still be here, or will it be some black and white photo of a place that used to be before it was bulldozed to the ground. None of us know, there’s not much that we can control, because the more we can control, it seems to escape us, probably better that way, after all Jesus told us to follow Him and leave ourselves behind. So maybe we should give that a shot. Let’s deny ourselves, let’s leave our dreams, plans, schedules, desires, all of it, really leave all of it…what would happen if we would or could or did leave ourselves…if we truly emptied ourselves and he became the true lover of our soul, the object of our worship…it could be dangerous…it could be a whirlwind…it could leave us bloody, bruised, and scared…but maybe just maybe we’d taste, even for a moment, what it would be to be truly and fully alive.

your fellow future black and white photo,

David Leo Schultz

Comments (14)

  1. That old church was full of life, hope, prayers, and miracles at one time, but time and not enough people able to keep up or renovate that building allowed a greater force to remove it from its existence. Be open to the “renovations” and the life God has for you next. There are many stories to tell. Find the story and tell it to the best of your ability. God bless you!

  2. Thank you. I’ve followed just a tiny bit of the Ragamuffin journey, via social media, over the past four years. The film is extraordinary, as seems the journey. Thanks for sharing this. I don’t know if The Color Greenfield has anymore projects in the works, but I would personally like to see more.

    I also think there really is a lot more faith in seeking God’s guidance one step at a time, searching those mysteries of salvation and grace, of Jesus Himself. As someone who used to stare at the ceiling and beg God for the “holy lightning bolt” that would show me His will, I’ve realized He’s already shown me His will: Follow me. Thanks for staying faithful, brother.

  3. God’s calling is to Himself, friend. So often we get the work of God confused with the call of God. I think you’ve hit the nail squarely on the head. Praying like Jesus taught, these things are so important.

  4. I really appreciate your observations and commentary. I immediately thought of Mark Twain’s biting but painfully true commentary on the matter in “The War Prayer” when you noted, “Sometimes folks throw that expression around like “God bless you” or “Amen” and they don’t even know what they’re hoping God blesses or what they are Amen’ing…” Thank you so very much for pursuing this ambitious creative endeavor.

  5. David –

    Thank you for sharing your heart. It has been a testimony to watch you go through the process over the past few years of getting the movie made and seen. I thank God that He caused our paths to cross, you have been a blessing to me.


  6. I hope I am torn down and forgotten about. Too many are built with good intentions then they turn into gods. So I would rather be not remembered if this makes sence. Ragamuffin or not all are welcome in our home but I hope even that people don’t remember just the Jesus they see, hear and touch if that makes sence.

  7. So loved the movie, the man & especially his music. Never got to experience him in concert but bought DVD “Live” & fell in love. Your movie should be seen by everyone, Christian or not. Thank you,thank you & God Bless.aj

  8. Thanks, David, for your blog! And thanks again for coming to Albany! I enjoyed meeting you and talking with you, even if it was only a short talk..LOL What an amazing thing to see a dream come to fruition! And boy am I glad it did!!
    What a wonderful testament of a man that sought after God and found Him! I have always thought that when someone gets so close to Christ that they can’t get any closer, God takes them home. And I have always thought that about Rich. Someone asked me after hearing about the movie “So maybe he wasn’t as ‘Christ Like’ as you thought?” I said how do you know that? Jesus was tempted and did not fall, but Jesus was also fully God and fully man, one thing Rich was not! So, we don’t know that.
    What we do know, from his music, is that he loved God with his whole heart! And he loved people, and that is Christ Like!
    Thanks again, David, for putting your life into making this movie!!
    And maybe we will see each other again this side of heaven. If not I will see you when we get there 🙂
    Debbi, Albany, Oregon

  9. I attended a Bethel U.M. church when I was a child that was the splitting image of the church pictured here and I have seen a lot of the same, well, crap, come out of churches along the way, but the love of Christ has always outshone those wasteland Christians and guided me to the truth. Rich expressed a lot of what I felt (and still feel). We are frail, not as strong as we think, but we are loved like crazy. Thanks for being faithful to whatever made you decide to put in the time, effort, and tears to make a movie of Rich’s life. (sometimes God whispers, ya know?) It also helped my kids to see that light. One more thing- if you’re ever in the mood to do it all over again- there was once this musician named Mark Heard….=)

  10. Well said, David. Sharon read this and sent me the link. I’m glad she did.

    You are right about the Church. I have often said, tongue only halfway in cheek, that “God ordained the Church because it is one of the best evidences that the world needs a Savior.” So many are striving, posturing, positioning for some sense of recognition or status or, at least, safety.

    Yet, you are right. Our faith is not about earthly safety. Jesus said, “Follow me and I will promise you….tribulation.” But He also said, “I will give you rest.” As such, I tend to think that the true Peace of Christ is not felt most deeply in the midst of serenity and calm predictability. Rather, the Peace of Christ shines in the eye of the hurricane, where only God can give us the faith to genuinely rest. It is there that Jesus invites us to truly trust that He is able to love us enough…more than enough…so that we can live with integrity and love with authenticity.

    I think your blog really helps point us in this direction. Thanks again.

  11. I stumbled across “Ragamuffin” the other day and watched it last night. Obviously I had heard a few of Rich’s most famous songs in church or on the radio or but until this week, I didn’t even really recognize his name. I’m 20 now so he died when I was really young. Anyways, today I stumbled across your blog. I read your most recent entry and now this one. It hit me so well. I’m in college right now and it seems like everyone asks me what I want to do with my life. (And I’m honestly getting quite sick of it!) That line about your dreams always being a combo of creativity and preaching Jesus describes me as well. And so often it feels like I have to chose one or the other. And what you said about plans also just really hit me. And even when we make these plans, God is the one that determines what happens. You said maybe we’re not supposed to know what comes next. I think you’re right. If we knew every thing that we were going to do and what we should do, then there would be no real need to continually walk in faith and prayer. Thank you so much for giving me hope tonight and reminding me I’m never alone in what I struggle with.

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