|Posted on December 5, 2013 at 7:35 PM|
Wonderful Lessons From
It’s a Wonderful Life
I have enjoyed It’s a Wonderful Life at least once a year since being introduced to it by my dad in 1977. It is an entertaining, heartwarming movie with a tour-de-force acting performance by Jimmy Stewart – his first film after fighting in WWII.
We all know the story: George Bailey is a good man with grand dreams who puts them aside to have a family and help his town. He despairs when things go really bad one Christmas Eve and he is ready to commit suicide. Then George has the chance to see what the world would be like if he had never been born. He is helped by Clarence, (Angel Second Class), sent to earn his wings by helping George.
“Strange isn’t it – each man touches other lives.”
Clarence delivers the main message of this endearing movie which has touched so many lives. George has to learn that while he never achieved the goals he envisioned, he was instrumental in the lives of most members of Bedford Falls.
But besides this crucial lesson, there are many other gospel messages we can harvest from the movie. As we go through the story, let’s see what we can learn from George Bailey and his wonderful life . . .
“He’s got the IQ of a rabbit.” “Yes, but he’s got the faith of a child – simple.”
As the movie opens, prayers are heard in Heaven and someone needs to be sent to George Bailey in his moment of need. It’s Clarence’s turn to help but he isn’t the smartest clockmaker in Heaven. However, he does have what’s important – faith.
Obviously the Heaven in the movie agrees with Jesus, who said the faith of a child is needed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (LK 18:17).
“I’m not very good at this.” “Neither am I.” “Okay – what can we lose?”
George runs into Mary Hatch at a high school graduation party. George has known Mary all her life, but now is attracted to her. Their conversation is interrupted by the announcement of a Charleston dance contest. George and Mary both say they aren’t good. They participate anyway and have fun, even when they fall in the pool which opens beneath them.
Like David, Moses, Peter, and Paul, George doesn’t let his shortcomings stop him from doing what he should. God doesn’t look at our resume, but our hearts, measuring our desire to follow.
“I’m glad I know you, George Bailey.”
George gives his old friend, Violet, a reference letter and some money to make a new start outside of Bedford Falls. Violet is choked up and admits that she’s glad she knows George. The Gospels tell us that people went out of their way to meet Jesus, so it’s a safe guess that everyone who knew him was equally glad they did. Are people glad they know you? If not, what can you change?
“Is Daddy in trouble?” “Yes Pete.” “Shall I pray for him?” “Yes, Janie, pray very hard.”
After George releases his frustrations on his family, he goes out into the night. Mary calls friends to help him. The children come up with their own idea on who to turn to: God. Eventually the adults pray as well – these are the prayers we hear at the beginning of the movie. Started by the children, the entire town of Bedford Falls learned the message of MT 21:22 to turn to God with our needs.
“I’m not a praying man . . .”
Having blown up at his family and beginning to despair, George goes to Martini’s bar. George turns to prayer and asks God to “show me the way.” While he may not be comfortable with prayer, his request for guidance -- rather than an easy solution -- shows sound theology.
Shortly after this prayer, George is punched by Mr. Welch. George cynically believes getting hit is the answer to his prayer. But it turns out that Clarence is the real answer – tho not the one George initially had hope for . . .
“Please, God, let me live again.”
Ate end of the fantasy sequence, George has seen what life would have been like in Bedford Falls if he had never been born. He desperately wants his life back but doesn’t regain it until he invokes God’s name – it becomes a prayer, not just a plea. How often does our life improve when we turn to God?
“I’ve got to earn (my wings) and you’ll help, won’t you?” / “Mary did it, George! Mary did it! She told a few people you were in trouble and they scattered all over town collecting money.”
Clarence asks George to help him earn his wings. He also later asks the heavenly Joseph for assistance. Likewise, Mary spread the word that George was in trouble and everyone in town pitched in.
So often in life, others are willing to help us if we only ask for their help. When Potter suggests George turn to “the rabble” in town to cover the missing funds, George says they don’t have that kind of money. They didn’t individually, but together they did make a difference!
(Of course, if George had done this, we wouldn’t have the movie we have now!)
It’s become part of the American myth, the individual who does everything by him- or herself. But even Paul admitted that he’s stronger when he’s weak and turns to God (2 Cor. 12:10).
“To my big brother, George – the richest man in town.”
Harry Bailey offers a toast in his brother’s favor. George discovers the copy of Tom Sawyer Clarence was reading and finds an inscription to him: “No man is a failure who has friends.” Just like Peter tells the beggar in Acts. 3:6, George realizes that there are more important things than money.
Whether it’s your first or 39th time (as it will be for me), enjoy the magic and hope of It’s a Wonderful Life this Christmas season . . . and learn from it.
These and another nine lessons from the movie are available in the workshop on It’s a Wonderful Life
Copyright 2013 Robert Blaskey