The Reel Christmas
“It’s A Wonderful Life”
This Advent Season, we are gleaning Biblical life lessons from all-time favorite movies! The first Sunday we considered lessons on believing and exercising faith, from Miracle on 34th Street. Last Sunday we gleaned a lesson from How The Grinch Stole Christmas about “heart problems and how small our hearts are when consumed by selfishness and hate.
This week we’d like to consider life lessons from an all-time favorite “It’s A Wonderful Life”
This week’s movie is considered a holiday classic. The gold standard of holiday movies. It was released in 1947 and bombed. It didn’t even making its production budget back.
It didn’t make many waves back in the day, but today this movie proves that sometimes even a mistake can’t stop from believing that it really is A Wonderful Life!
So full of energy, so full of hope, so full of optimism! But….. George Bailey never left town – never got to fulfill his life’s ambitions – instead he stayed in Bedford Falls and much to his chagrin, took over and ran his father’s Savings and Loan business. A rich, miserly, grouchy businessman in town, Mr. Potter, was constantly shoving his wealth around town and subsequently in George’s face.
George Bailey married his sweet heart and had beautiful children, but because George always put the needs of others ahead of his own wants and desires, the Savings and Loan could barely survive.
When $8,000 was misplaced by George’s Uncle Billy a series of events unfolds that causes George to lose it. George leaves his beautiful family and his old house in a huff believing that all was lost and only thinking about what a disaster life was. After getting drunk at a local bar, George gets in a fight and run out the door of the bar to a nearby bridge to contemplate ending his life. However, George’s guardian angel falls from heaven, Clarence who promptly dives into the river to prevent George from killing himself. Instead of jumping with the intent to end his life, George jumps in to save Clarence.
When George says to Clarence he wished he’d never been born, Clarence proceeds to show George an alternate timeline in which George had never been born. George is subsequently shocked and dismayed beyond words! One of the hardest things in life is to live in the present and simultaneously see a bigger picture. George Bailey went off the deep end, because he couldn’t see the bigger picture. How many of us, often feel like our life is just one despair from another and we might even wish we never would have been born?
King Solomon in Ecclesiastes says it well – let’s read from “The Message” this morning.
Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That’s what the Quester says.] There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke. What’s there to show for a lifetime of work, a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone? One generation goes its way, the next one arrives, but nothing changes—it’s business as usual for old planet earth. The sun comes up and the sun goes down, then does it again, and again—the same old round. The wind blows south, the wind blows north. Around and around and around it blows, blowing this way, then that—the whirling, erratic wind. All the rivers flow into the sea, but the sea never fills up. The rivers keep flowing to the same old place, and then start all over and do it again. Everything’s boring, utterly boring— no one can find any meaning in it. Boring to the eye, boring to the ear. What was will be again, what happened will happen again. There’s nothing new on this earth. Year after year it’s the same old thing. Does someone call out, “Hey, this is new”? Don’t get excited—it’s the same old story. Nobody remembers what happened yesterday. And the things that will happen tomorrow? Nobody’ll remember them either. Don’t count on being remembered.
Wow! What a dismal perspective! George Bailey felt just like the description of life in our Scripture today. How about you? Do you despair? Do you lack hope? Do you lack joy just in the fact that you’re alive? God has better things planned for your life than to live with that kind of discouragement.
You never realize how much you have until you lose it. Friends are better than anything you could seek. However, we tend not to let that be enough!
George Bailey gave of himself – gave up worldly pursuits to help others – but in the end, George spent so much time comparing his life to others that he couldn’t see what he had.
Comparison is one of Satan’s favorite tools. Jealousy, envy, comparison – they are thieves of joy!
James 3:16 -For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
Do you look at others… At what they have and what you don’t have by comparison? George let the sin of comparison take away his joy - his life appeared so dismal, he wanted to end his life. But George was offered a second chance at life. Let’s look at what happened when Clarence was instrumental in getting a second chance for George Bailey. George returns home with an entirely different perspective. And he was about to experience a surprise like he’d never seen. Even in the face of insurmountable odds, His heart was changed and he became so much more positive – and his financial situation was about to become miraculously different.
Let’s get Paul’s perspective:
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (The Message)
So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.