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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 8:02 pm | Fair 53º


Jim Langley: It’s a Wonderful Life

Some of you may disagree, but I personally feel “It’s a wonderful life!” I missed catching the original film by that name this past Christmas season, but I can certainly recall the story and the message conveyed in one of the classic movies of all times.

It’s a Wonderful Life hit the box office in 1946 during a time of healing for our country, and marked the first film produced and directed by Frank Capra and first starring role for Jimmy Stewart after both men returned from sacrificing five years of their lives for their country. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including best picture.

Stewart’s role as George Bailey, a man who had given up his dreams to help others then despondently decides to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge into the icy waters below on Christmas eve, sets the stage for a sobering portrayal of the value of life. Bailey’s guardian angel, Clarence Odbody, during the next hour of the film helps him see the significance of his life to the Bedford Falls community, leading him to ask for a second chance, which he is granted. Enough on the story for now at least.

It’s quite easy to get discouraged in life and feel that we have nothing to offer this complex world. Yes, this is a complex world, but it’s really not about the world at all.

It’s quite easy to get caught up in all that’s going on around us and feel out of control. You see, I figured out years ago that my life purpose is not to make a huge splash in this world. God has created each of us for His distinct purpose. Life is not about reaching goals. Life is a process and each day brings new opportunities to make a distinct difference in the lives God places in our path.

That thought may seem simplistic until you start to experience just how God orchestrates your personal story. The sooner you come to realize the intricacies of God actively working in your life, the sooner you will be able to sense the reality found in the personal relationship He wishes to have with all His creation.

Let’s go back to Jimmy Stewart and consider the impact this role must have had on his life. Upon returning from World War II, Stewart found himself despondent and fearful to return to Hollywood and competing for lead roles with the new generation of male stars who had been discovered during his absence. These days, his condition would have been diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

I believe God actually used this unique role to resurrect Stewart’s movie career. Capra’s career was also resurrected in the process. So, two very successful men patriotically gave up prime years of their working lives and both were greatly rewarded for their unselfish service to their country.

As a side note, Capra won three Academy Awards during his successful movie career. Stewart was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning in 1941 for The Philadelphia Story.

There’s a scene in It’s a Wonderful Life near the end of the movie when George Bailey breaks down in a pub and cries and prays, “God ... God ... dear Father in Heaven. I’m not a praying man, but if You’re up there and You can hear me, show me the way. I’m at the end of my rope. Show me the way, God.”

In an interview with Guideposts, Stewart recalled the impact that scene had on his personal life and the hopelessness many people face in life who feel they have nowhere to turn.

I’ve found that life is filled with many twists and turns, and we’d be wise to realize that each day brings us the opportunity to grow closer to God and to know ourselves better through the process. We simply cannot allow the obstacles we face to get in the way of growing closer to Him and learning more about the plans He has for our lives.

In Jeremiah 29:11 we’re reminded, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” So, I suggest you come to realize the wonderful gift of life that you’ve been given, live it to the fullest and fasten your seat belts!

Oh yes, I know it can be easy to take credit for all that goes favorably and turn right around and blame others and God when times are tough. I suggest you put such thoughts behind you and watch God work in all circumstances this day forward.

Passages to Ponder

» Isaiah 48:17

» Romans 8:28

» Philippians 4:6-7

» 1 Timothy 4:10

» Hebrews 11:1-3

» 1 Peter 1: 3, 21

» 1 Peter 3:15

— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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