It’s a Wonderful Life Indeed

For years I have been one of those staunch, “We will not watch Christmas movies before Thanksgiving!” people. As my kids get older and more aware of seasons, I am losing that battle. It’s mid-November, and we have already watched Home Alone and It’s A Wonderful Life. Christmas movies are awesome because they are full of hope and cheer, or in the case of Elf, just good old-fashioned idiotic hilarity. My favorite Christmas movie is It’s a Wonderful Life. I could watch it all year-long. Donna Reed is flawless and Jimmy Stewart has that raw emotion and vulnerability that grips me. But it is Jimmy Stewart’s character, George Bailey that strikes closest to home. I relate with his sky-high dreams and expectations to match along with the crushing weight of disappointment as those dreams go up in smoke.

Like George, I was an ambitious, passionate, big-dreaming young adult. I began college at age 18 still a new believer equally zealous and immature, working out my theology and values. I had big, fantastic dreams of serving the Lord anywhere and everywhere. I spent my summers working at camp and serving on mission trips. Meeting new people and sharing the gospel felt effortless. I felt most alive mingling in new cultures and serving wherever, whenever. While many of my friends were meticulously plotting out their graduation and career plans, I imagined going overseas as a missionary. I was full of promise.

If I had a catch phrase to accompany many of the dumb things I have done in life it would be “Then I met this guy . . .” SMACK MY HEAD. You see, while I loved the Lord, my roots were not quite deep and I was easily pulled away because my insecurity ran rampant and I had not yet learned to step into my identity in Christ. The enemy is real, friends and is all too familiar where your weak spots are. So I met this guy, and he was great, and I ran headlong and fast into something I was not prepared for or called to. I got married all starry-eyed and naive. I had no idea that I was following in the footsteps of my predecessor Esau and trading my birthright as a daughter of God for a moment of satisfaction. I was in for a world of hurt that I knew nothing about.

That year that I wed and my new life began as a bride I also had a death and a burial. The belly full of fire for the Lord, that passion to take the gospel to the nations, that girlish love died a quick death to my new role as I worried about learning to cook and keep house while finishing school and working two jobs. Like so many others, I found out that I married a stranger who was not interested in following those dreams. What had we done? I guessed that my dreams just weren’t in God’s plan after all, when what I could not understand then was that I chose to bury that dream when I made a rash choice out of my brokenness.

Many years, three children and a painful divorce later I have found myself in a place where I have started to dream again. It was several weeks ago when I was freed from some fear I was experiencing. In the midst of the conversation and prayer I had with my friend the Holy Spirit moved in and did what He does – he unburied something I thought was dead. This long-dead dream of setting the world on fire rose up so quickly that it startled me, and I began to weep. I realized in that moment that a resurrection had just happened. A part of myself I had forgotten about shook off the grave-clothes and began walking, no – dancing!

Psalm 126:5-6 “Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Bill Johnson of Bethel Church says, “What was meant to destroy us becomes a time of refreshing . . .”

And I am not 18 anymore. I am 36. I have three children and rent, student loans, and loads of responsibility. I also have this fresh perspective of who God is and His utter disregard for the word impossible. I have this desire for more, and through my trials I have seen Him move in ways that I can only accredit to Him. I had heard about God, but now I have seen Him with my own eyes. (Job 42:5)

My point with all this? Maybe you buried something long ago because of choices you made. Maybe you figured that you have been disqualified, counted out. Maybe not. I pray that God would grant you the gift of fresh perspective and awaken dreams. It’s never too late because there really is no such thing as impossible. And like George Bailey, look around and see just how wealthy you are. Dream new dreams; trust God that He cherishes you.

“A toast to my big brother George: The richest man in town.” – Harry Bailey, It’s a Wonderful Life

If you need prayer or encouragement, please feel free to comment here with your email address; I would love to talk with you!

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