I’m not a talented impressionist, but for years I’ve been paraphrasing a couple of lines from It’s a Wonderful Life while doing my best imitation of Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey.
“Why do we have to live in this drafty old house, Mary? And why do we have to have all these kids?”
That frustrated outburst by George Bailey has been a favorite of mine since junior high. In college, for the entertainment of my roommates, I did my impression while inserting the name of my girlfriend. ‘Shari’ rhymes with ‘Mary.’ It was perfect.
But it got better. Years later, I actually lived in a drafty old house with Shari and several of our children. Now it was a sheer delight for me to belt out those lines. Having worked the stage speaking those same few words for years, my impression was pretty good. But during all those years of having fun with my George Bailey impression, I never dreamed that I would one day become George Bailey.
That was no laughing matter.
After losing my livelihood in the Midwest, I traveled 850 miles west to Colorado Springs to make a fresh start. I had dreams of doing something meaningful, something satisfying, something aligned with my gifting, something profitable. But I found nothing in this town that dreams are made of. Colorado Springs became my Bedford Falls. I was broke. I felt trapped. I repeatedly cried out to God and begged Him to get me out of my circumstantial Bedford Falls.
In time, I found myself standing on the bridge, as it were, staring into the icy water below. But God didn’t send Clarence the angel to save me. He sent many “angels” into my life, several ministers of light who spoke truth into my dark and troubled soul.
Through their ministry, the Spirit opened my eyes to people all around me, the people who cared for me and the people Jesus wanted me to care for. God showed me that life isn’t circumstance-based, but relationship based. The meaningful, satisfying life I was looking for was right in front of me all the time. Intimacy with God is the life-giving, joy-producing spring that overflows into streams of blessing to those who live right here in Bedford Falls.
And I learned that my relationship-based ministry begins with my beautiful wife and wonderful kids who live with me in this drafty house.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!