It’s A Wonderful Life

Our city’s newspaper, The Public Opinion, will publish the article below today (Dec 26, 2019). I thought I would go ahead and share it with you here on my blog. The newspaper has a limit, as you might imagine, regarding the length of the article. So, it’s a quick read!

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One of my favorite Christmas movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It might surprise you to know that it was put on the official list of the greatest movies of all-time. Chances are pretty good that most of you have seen the movie, but allow me to briefly summarize the story-line. George Bailey (played by James Stewart) lives in Bedford Falls, NY. On Christmas Eve George is considering suicide. George has lived a good and moral life. He has made many sacrifices for the well-being of his family and for the city that he lives in. But he can’t help but think that he is missing out on something. He longs to travel, see the world, and to go on an adventure. He feels deeply unhappy with his family, job, and his seemingly insignificant life. God intervenes and sends an angel by the name of Clarence. Clarence shows George what life would have been like if he had never lived. Through this process George realizes all that he has to be grateful for and he becomes a truly changed man. Let me be clear about this, I love this movie. I can’t watch the movie without something getting in my eye. OK, fine, the movie makes me cry. But, each time I watch the movie I realize that something really important is missing.

When George is given the vision of what life would be like if he had never lived he becomes grateful for all that he has. The problem is that his job, family, and even his life, are all things that can be lost. If George anchors his deepest sense of hope, contentment, and satisfaction in these temporal things he will find that his joy is like a mere vapor that easily dissipates when trials and suffering enters his life. Discovering that life does not meet our expectations can lead us into some dark places, just like it did for George Bailey. Our job, family, health are huge blessings from God and we should be grateful for them. But there is only one place to turn to if we want to find true, eternal joy, and his name is Jesus Christ.

If you and I were to slow down this Christmas season, we would find beneath all of our busyness and activity that we have a heart that is desperately searching for happiness. Maybe you, even among all the holiday festivities, are realizing that what you once thought would make you happy is not delivering as you had hoped. The sobering reality is that there is nothing on this earth that can fill the hole in our heart. St. Augustine wrote these words, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” In John 14:26 Jesus says something really bold, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” My prayer for everyone who lives in Watertown, and everyone who is reading this article, is that you find the “life” that is only experienced and enjoyed by having a relationship with Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas! (END OF ARTICLE)

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Watching the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, reminds me of the city that I live in (Watertown, SD). I dearly love this city and the people who live in it. If you want to read a few books that gives you a greater appreciation for the small city I would like to recommend the following:

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry (just got this for Christmas)

A Big Gospel for Small Places: Why Ministry in Forgotten Communities Matters by Stephen Witmer

 

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