By Del Duduit
This past Sunday, I witnessed the final scene in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life.
Spoiler alert for those few who have never taken the time to watch the 1948 Frank Capra classic, which includes one of my daughters-in-law, so you may want to ignore this post since I might give away the ending.
The premise behind the film is simple.
The key moment takes place on Christmas Eve 1945 in Bedford Falls, New York, when George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) contemplates suicide.
He is standing on the side of a bridge, snow is falling, and he realizes his life is falling apart. He wants to end it all by jumping into the icy waters.
Family and friends are worried and send up a barrage of prayers on his behalf. In Heaven, Clarence Odbody, Angel 2nd class, is deployed to save George.
Upon completion of his assignment, Clarence will earn his wings and a promotion. But in order to be prepared, Clarence is shown flashbacks of George’s life and how he has made a positive impact on everyone around him.
One example is from 1919, when George is 12 and saves his younger brother, Harry, from drowning. His brother goes on to be a decorated soldier in the armed forces. Another is when George is at his drugstore job after school and notices the pharmacist, Mr. Gower, who is distraught about his son’s death, accidentally adds poison to a customer’s prescription. George stops it and prevents a potential tragedy.
I could go on with other examples, but I want to get to my point.
George later faces some financial challenges and entertains the idea to end his life. He gave up on his dreams to “lasso the moon” in order to help others. His imminent suicide enlists the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence, who shows George all the lives he has touched and how different their lives would be without him.
One of the most powerful lines in the movie comes from Clarence who tells him, “You’ve been given a great gift, George: a chance to see what the world would be like without you.”
When everyone discovers George, who operates a building and loan business, is in financial trouble, they stop what they are doing and rush to help by giving him money and support. They pour into his home and give back to a person who has helped them all along the way.
One of the funniest lines is when Annie, the Baileys’ housekeeper, passes by, puts her money into the pot and says, “I’ve been savin’ this money for a divorce, if ever I got a husband.”
The point of the movie is that George is able to see what life would be like if he had never been born. In the end, he discovers he has a wonderful life after all. He also finds out that friends are more valuable than money.
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This past Sunday, I saw a real-life version of this final scene up close and personal.
At the end of our morning service, our pastor told everyone to be seated. He asked a family of four to stand up, and he told us the father had recently had to take time off work because of health issues. His wife has also had an ongoing major health problem as well. This family is special, and you never hear them complain. The father has had to miss work, and medical bills are on the rise, so our pastor simply encouraged the congregation to a blessing to them.
Within seconds, hundreds of us made our way to the family to bless them. People were lined up out the doors and all around the sanctuary.
Tears were everywhere, and the dad was unable to look up because he was crying. The family was a mess, in a good way. The two kids were overwhelmed and hugged our pastors and cried. It was right out the movie.
This gesture was not planned or provoked, nor was it to be seen as a gesture of pity. It was a call to help a friend in need, and it was ordained by the Holy Spirit.
Our church family rallied around them, much like George’s friends did in the film.
My brother-in-law told me later that our pastor had seen an adult give a young boy in our church a dollar before the service that morning.
The same boy was in line to give his gift to the family in need.
This is Christmas.
People sit in church every Sunday who are overwhelmed with life’s problems, but they put on a good face, and many around them have no idea how much they are hurting.
You never know what challenges people encounter each day. But in the end, you must realize your life is wonderful, and you are a valued child of God.
The story depicted in the movie, as well as the scene of love that played out at our church service on Sunday morning, showed human nature at its finest.
Problems come on all who walk this earth. No one is immune. Disappointments are real.
When I was in college, I had big dreams that never became reality. I had some high goals that were never achieved. Instead, I stayed home and sacrificed for others. I can relate to George.
I never imagined having a writing ministry or helping others this way. But I have received some powerful notes of encouragement along the way that are proof that I am where God wants me.
Struggles of doubt and discouragement hound me each day, but I know how to deal with them.
Our happiness lies in who we are in God’s eyes, and we find our greatest joy in helping and serving others.
“ …verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25: 40 KJV)
I am looking forward to spending Christmas with my family: my wife, my two sons, my two daughters-in-law, and my two grandchildren.
When I reflect, I see struggles I have faced. I know I will have more. But I know I have a wonderful life.
I’m not an Angel like Clarence, but I hope to earn my wings one day.
Let me know your thoughts on this post, and if you have faced difficult challenges.
Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.
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