December 22, 2019

There is a movie titled IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, that was made in 1946 starring one of America’s greatest actors, Jimmy Stewart.  It was one of several movies I studied years ago in college when I took several classes on Radio, TV and Film.

The movie is still very popular today and is usually played on TV several times a year during the Christmas season. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve watched it since I’ve been an adult.

I won’t tell you all the details of the movie. Especially since you’ve probably already seen it too. But to refresh your memory, the story takes place around Christmas time in a small town. The star, Jimmy Stewart’s character, works at a bank. His name is George Bailey. There is a problem at the bank and it looks like there’s going to be a big scandal and George Bailey is going to get blamed for something that’s not his fault.

George Bailey becomes so depressed over this problem that he thinks the only way out of sparing himself and his family all the embarrassment and shame over this problem is to commit suicide.  So, George Bailey is shown in a scene where he is by a bridge and thinking about throwing himself in the river below to end his life.

I’ll save a lot of time and get to one of my favorite parts of the movie. An angel appears who just looks like a regular man. He tells George Bailey that he simply must not kill himself. Then the angel, Clarence, begins telling George Baily all the things which could happen to the town, the bank and his family, etc. if he were to commit suicide and not be there to do all the wonderful things he has done, and would continue to do in his life.

Clarence uses a lot of back-flashes to prove to George Bailey why he is such an important person to so many people.  In the end Clarence convinces George Bailey not to end his life. George becomes aware of the fact that, despite all of his problems, that he has had a wonderful life.

The movie has a wonderful ending and it has encouraged many people through the years.  It’s one of my favorite movies.  It has many religious overtones showing the sacredness of life and our responsibilities to fulfill God’s mission that He has created us for.

Like George Bailey in the movie, we all have our problems and sometimes feel we would be better off living somewhere else and doing something else with our lives that we would like better.

But please take a moment when you read this to look at who you are, and as many religious leader’s will say, and Whose you are.  That’s especially important to do during the Christmas season as we focus on the events surrounding this much celebrated holiday.

The main reason for celebrating Christmas is to focus on and worship the Christ child who became our Lord and Savoir.  He was born of Mary, a virgin, who had never known a man.  It was indeed a miraculous birth.

But as I look at all life, (and I think God looks at it this way too) all life is sacred, even a miracle.  None of us were born to a virgin as Jesus was to Mary, but still each life is a miracle.

I marvel at the invention and knowledge of DNA identifiers in each life.  Think about it.  Of all the billions of humans who have ever been born, we are each unique, and God has a purpose for everyone ever born.  With your unique talents and abilities, your location where you live, and even the time in which you were born; God knows everything about you.  Now and in the future.  The Bible teaches in several places that God knew you in your mother’s womb.

One of the greatest gifts God ever gave you was life itself: with all it’s opportunities and responsibilities.  Be grateful for that gift and bloom where you’ve been planted.  Somebody needs you.  Society needs you.

Your life may not be at the moment what you want it to be.  You may be thinking of all your disadvantages.  But God has a use for every vessel.

I read a book several years ago about Nick Vujioic.  I had never heard of him until I saw him being interviewed on TV.  He was born without any arms or legs–just a torso.  But he had a good mind and miraculously, a good attitude, too.  Instead of being bitter and angry at God, he became a minister.  He goes all over the world giving motivational and inspirational talks.  He lives the most normal life he can with his obvious limitations.  A few years ago he got married.

Then look at the life of the brilliant physicist, Stephen Hawkins.  He was a British scientist who lived between 1942 to 2018.  He wrote many books and papers that influenced the whole world. Yet for most of his life he was confined to a wheel chair and could not talk.  Most of his body was paralyzed.  But in his lifetime, he won many awards and acolades,including The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award given to a citizen.

Forty-plus years ago, I was pastoring a church where I met a man who told me twice during about a one year period, that he wished he had never been born.  I told him. “But you have grown children, several grandchildren and a successful business you own, you’re in good health and you have a responsibility to your family and God. Why would you ever say that you wished you had never been born?”
He said, “Life is just too hard and has too many worries.”

Recently a good friend of mine was telling me about a sad story of a young man with young children who was so discouraged with his family situation that he was going to commit suicide. My friend talked to him several times on the phone convincing him that his life was important and it didn’t matter how much he was in pain and inconvenienced at the time, that his young children especially needed him. She told him he had a God-given responsibility to live and look after his family.  Thank God she convinced him to not commit suicide.

The hardest funeral I ever officiated at was for a boy 17 years of age who committed suicide.  I had known him since he was five years old.  I led him to salvation in Christ when he was about six years old.  But I had not seen or heard from him in several years until early one morning I got a phone call from his sister telling me of his death. He had left a note telling how he had nothing to live for.  His dad had been dead several years, his mother was an alcoholic and drug addict, and he just lived from here to there, he had gotten on drugs, and his girlfriend had just broken up with him. He requested that I do his funeral.

I told his sister that of course I would do his funeral, that it would be an honor. His family had very little money for the funeral. My daughter, Rachel, who knew the boy since age five too, and Sandra and I bought his memorial monument.  I went by the cemetery to see the monument a few months later. It was so sad to see a life ended so soon in utter despair.

This Christmas season, look at the gift of life and salvation. Gifts you can not buy, wrap up and place under a Christmas tree.  Gifts from God to you. And you and your life and your love are gifts, too, to so many all around you. Make the most of God’s gifts.

Be like George Bailey and say, ” Yes, it’s a wonderful life!”

God Bless You,
Spencer Plumley