It Really is a Wonderful Life
“The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It's for you I created the universe. I love you. There's only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you'll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.” ~ Frederick Buechner
Every Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, the 1946 film produced and directed by Frank Capra, finds new life as a must-see for many families. The movie, based on a short story, "The Greatest Gift”, written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1939. It's a Wonderful Life is considered one of the most critically acclaimed films ever made. It was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture and has been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made, placing number 11 on its initial greatest movie list as of 2020, and would also place number one on its list of the most inspirational American films of all time.
In spite of its critical acclaim, the number of showings continues to decrease each year. Perhaps it is the black and white presentation, the quaint town, the battle of good vs evil is something they don’t appreciate, and therefore continue to lose interest. The entire movie focuses on one man, George Bailey (James Stewart) and his frustration with life. Through the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers) shows George all the lives he has touched and how different the community of Bedford Falls would have been.
Let’s pause for a moment and think about God’s Grace. Not generically, but very specifically, let’s think about God’s grace in our own lives. How often do we really notice the effect(s) of His grace? Are we so frustrated by the actions of others we miss His grace? Are we so involved with the different responsibilities of life we manage to walk right by an act of grace? The answer for all of us is, unfortunately, yes.
Like George Bailey we lose the perspective of grace through the daily skirmishes and battles we face. Overwhelmed by crowded schedules, too many obligations and the call of the urgent cloud our vision of His grace at work in our lives.
The gift of His grace is all too often taken for granted. We bask in the glorious love of His grace. We enjoy the fruits of His grace. We are embraced by His grace at our most foul and most feeble. Unless we are careful we begin to think of grace more as a privilege rather than a gift from the Father.
We all want grace extended to us, yet we find ourselves struggling to offer grace to others. While we may sit in judgment of our fellow man, we demand they offer grace to us. We speak often of grace, yet understand it but little. The Father’s gift is abused, misused and even offered as an excuse for our failings.
God loves each of us, not because we deserve His love, but in spite of our sins. Grace is His to give. It is for us to accept. But the moment we accept, we become His, His followers, His servants, and His people. This means we must follow His Way, the only Way to genuine Grace. The Gift of Grace can be yours if you will only reach out and take it, and then share His Grace with others.
You see, it really is a wonderful life!