Standing on the edge of a snow-covered iron bridge, George Bailey wishes he had never been born and is ready to end his life in the icy waters below. He has no idea how truly blessed he is until he has an experience with the loveable apprentice angel, Clarence. Life stands still for George as he is taken on a journey of his life and sees what it would be like for those whose lives he touched if he hadn’t been born. Humbled by the rush of supportive friends to help him in his time of desperation brings me to tears as I remember similar times that this has happened in our family. The final scene has an elated man, grateful for life, running through the streets of Bedford Falls wishing everything and everyone a “Merry Christmas.”
One of our traditions every year is to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and also the classic tale by Dickens, “A Christmas Carol.” No matter how familiar I am with the stories, I glean something new each time.
With tight face and tight pockets, Ebenezer Scrooge works his faithful employee Cratchit in the cold of a Christmas Eve candlelight. The ghost of Jacob Marley comes to warn the uncharitable miser that he’ll be next to carry the chains if he doesn’t repent. Mr. Scrooge spends the night with three spirits who show him what has passed, what is now, and what will come. Standing in the shadow of his own grave he has a revelation, and wakes up as light as a feather and merry as a schoolboy!
The best Christmas stories are about changed lives. I can’t help but personalize a spiritual slant to the message of these classics . . .
What if Jesus had never been born? A vacant crèche.
What would the world be like if Immanuel hadn’t been transported from heaven in a holy womb to come to earth and live among us and to die for us?
The Bible would have ended in Malachi. God’s silence.
We would not be able to approach the God of heaven.
Our prayers would be wasted breath falling on a distant ear.
The afflicted would remain blind, deaf and lame. The dead would stay dead.
There would be no tears as we sing “Silent Night” because there was no silent night.
No forgiveness. No hope.
There would be no Christmas.
Every holy season reveals more of Jesus to me and what He has done in my life. I don’t need a George Bailey moment to realize that without Him I would still be on the same destructive path.
How would your life be different if Jesus had never been born? How would the lives you have touched been different without you?
May we be washed in Christmas gratitude.
Let’s remember together it’s a wonderful changed life . . . because Jesus came.
For I came down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. John 6:38