Learning To Recognize The Wonderful

Our high school choir students gave us a beautiful Christmas present this past week when they performed the musical It’s A Wonderful Life.

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

I’ve loved the movie version since I was kid, and seeing the story put to music as a stage performance is just as touching.

You remember the story:

George Bailey, the hometown boy who through selflessness and courage saves an old pharmacist from poisoning a customer and rescues his kid brother from an icy death.

George Bailey, who takes on his dad’s struggling business after his untimely death, puts his brother through college, and settles down with his hometown sweetheart, Mary.

George Bailey, who can never leave old Bedford Falls to pursue his greatest dreams of traveling, going to college, and building skyscrapers.

George Bailey, who answers the call to a life of hard work, service, and sacrifice.

But when that life appears to be falling a part, when the business is threatened with bankruptcy, when the responsibilities of life become overwhelming, George Bailey believes the lie that he is worth more dead than alive.

He wishes he had never been born.

Enter Clarence who gives George his wish. George Bailey is given the gift of not existing.

As a result, Bedford Falls becomes a town of poverty and corruption. The pharmacist serves time as a convicted murderer, George’s brother dies in the icy pond, and Mary is an unloved spinster. No friendships, no love, no life.

It doesn’t take long for George to see what a wonderful life he has given up.

Clarence’s words ring true for all of us: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

What Matters Most
When is the last time you have stood back to take a look at the bigger picture of your life?

It’s easy to get caught up in the “to-do’s”, the check-lists, and completing all our important tasks.

And as we round the corner and see Christmas coming soon, here’s a friendly reminder that your life touches the lives of others in ways you may never know.

The famous writer C.S. Lewis tells the story of a friend’s death in the essay The Four Loves. As a part of a tight group of friends, including J.R.R. Tolkien, they are shaken by the unexpected death of a fellow writer, Charles Williams.

Lewis explains that with Charles’s death, he lost more than a friend. He has also lost the parts of his other friends that only Charles could bring out.

Lewis explains: “Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s [Tolkien’s] reaction to a specifically Charles joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him ‘to myself’ now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald.”

Not only does your life matter to those whom you are influencing, it also brings out parts of others that no one else brings out.

As you wrap up the end of this year, take time to remember the parts of life that matter most. You really do make a bigger difference in the lives of others than you may know.

Think about the people who need your time. Think about the life lessons as well as the academic ones you are modeling for your students or teammates.

Think about the people you influence, not just the projects, policies, or programs you complete.

And when you need motivation to keep serving, think about the beauty of the Christmas story: the recognition that people are in need of rescue, the cosmic miracle of God becoming a baby.

In the Christmas story, the Maker of creation gives up his dreams so others can live theirs. He walks in the shoes of real people and suffers in their place.

He provides us all with hope of a more wonderful life.

Now It’s Your Turn
What are some ways you are taking time to remember the importance of what matters most this season? Share with the rest of us.

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker