With the calming lights of the Christmas tree glowing in the corner and the warmth of our teeny electric ‘fireplace’ filling the room, we settled in to watch a timeless, decades-old classic. Once again, the fictional story of George Bailey, a common man who never quite makes it out of his quiet, rather mundane hometown of Bedford Falls, unfolded before me. Although George dreams of shaking the dust of this ordinary town off of his feet and traveling to wondrous, far-off lands, he never quite accomplishes his desire. Burdened with the responsibility of his family-owned savings and loan association, he reluctantly settles into life at Bedford Falls, marries his childhood sweetheart, raises a family, and helps the poor folks of his town purchase their first homes and escape the heavy-handed oppression of the greedy Mr. Potter, the avaricious local banker. When George’s absent-minded uncle misplaces some bank funds, George finds himself in dire straits, his despair ultimately leading him to contemplate suicide.
Just when we fear all is lost, Angel 2nd Class Clarence arrives on the scene, exposing what life in Bedford Falls would look without the likes of one George Bailey, and it is indeed, a dark, dismal town. When George realizes the impact his seemingly insignificant life has made in the lives of those around him, when he comprehends the value of the friendships that he has forged during the course of his life, when he is reminded of the difference one life has made in his small hometown, he realizes that he has had a wonderful life…and Clarence the angel earns his wings.
I did a bit of introspection as the closing credits of What A Wonderful Life scrolled down the screen. I must admit that I have been discouraged lately. The world has become a terribly dark place, steamrolling on a downward spiral away from the God Who created it. As evil bombards my senses from every aspect of our society, I fear that that a viscous battle is upon us, and it is NOT a battle against flesh and blood, “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” If my spirit is sorely grieved by the blatant unrighteousness baked into our culture, I can only imagine the displeasure of a holy, perfect God, a God Whose precious creation “did not like to retain God in their knowledge,” a creation who, while “professing themselves to be wise…became fools.” Have we reached that point of Bible prophecy when God’s mercy ends and His judgment falls, when He reluctantly gives “them over to a reprobate mind….to uncleanness?”
But in the midst of my fear and discouragement, I am reminded that we are not to surrender in despair, but to have an impact on our wicked world, to be “blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world,” boldly “holding forth the word of life,” to a world that is in desperate need of His light. By grace, I am the owner of a wonderful life, a life with the promise of an eternity basking in the presence of my Savior, an eternity of rest, peace, and perfect light. As the world becomes darker, our light must shine even brighter, illuminating those around us, drawing them to the Father of light. Some day, our light will be removed from this earth by means of the rapture, leaving the world on a dark path to destruction. But in the meantime, my mundane, uneventful life, can be used of the Spirit to change someone’s eternity. What a wonderful life is mine!
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
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