Who will ever forget the film classic, It’s a Wondeful Life starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed? Jimmy played a character named George Bailey who simply had taken all he could of life. But, when he found a hasty wish had come true, he discovered what life would truly be like had he never been born. What he learned was that life was drastically different. Horrified at what he saw, he stood on a snow covered bridge and cried, “I want to live again!” He wanted back the life he had lost.
This time of the year seems to do something to me. I find myself sentimental and nostalgic. It is so refreshing to sit in front of a crackling fireplace and mentally review the quickly accumulating memories of life. While few of us recognize it, life can be stolen from us everyday. Have you ever noticed how we seem to lose not only track of time but the value of life? All too often we fail to realize what is really important in life until it is too late to go back and change it.
After an event that would forever alter her life, I wonder what “Christmas” meant to Mary? Could she still feel the cold dampness and smell the stench of animals in a lonely stable where she bore the very son of God? Did she have a warm smile in her heart reflecting on the day she thought He was lost? Did her eyes glisten with a tremendous sense of pride knowing the joy, peace, and comfort He brought to so many others? No other mother in the history of the world would ever have the privilege she alone had. She was always in the shadow of her son’s life. She witnessed His first miracle. She witnessed His death. My, how His 33 years of life must have swept by her heart. Who could even imagine all the thoughts of her heart? A mother who risked tremendous public ridicule to have a child that was only born to die…and die so young.
Children can be so aggravating at times. Anyone who says they cannot be has not had children. Yet, in the midst of the aggravation, there is an unspeakable joy. It is the most unusual combination of feelings found in our lives. The truth of the matter is, children are only aggravating to us because they don’t already know what we know. In these moments of reflection, I sit back and watch my children struggle to learn to navigate their way through life. Oh, that I could spare them the hurts, pains, and disappointments I’ve experienced. Oh, that they would not fail and make the same mistakes as I. However, I know as best as I could try, they will encounter their own set of designed appointments with God. From Mary’s life we are reminded, there is a small window of opportunity that we have in the life of our children. We get one shot to do it. Knowing that, why are we so flippant with life? If the opportunities of life were an animal most of us would be imprisoned for cruelty.
With every blink of an eye, another “Mary” is looking over her shoulder wondering where it all went. As difficult as it is to admit, one day we will miss dirty handprints on the doors…crayons all over the floor…bikes left in front of the car…unwanted food under the table “to feed the hungry dog”…hugs with an “I’m so glad you are home daddy.” In time, the house will be bare of such mementos. Just what will be important then? I suppose I’m coming to learn, it does not matter what people think of me. It is what my children KNOW about me that is most important. They deserve to be proud just as Jesus was proud. Before He took His last breath on the cross, He was still taking care of the one who cared so much for Him. It is time for us to stop living so selfishly as though tomorrow will always come.
As I pen these words, the sun is setting outside my study. Another day is almost gone. Life is a concrete easel with colors pressing to be stroked onto the backdrop. It has been poured and is starting to set. What impression are you leaving in it? Stop letting life steal so much from you. Be a George Bailey and start living again today.
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.