It’s A Wonderful Life
A few weeks ago some friends invited us to see “It’s a Wonderful Life” at a local movie theatre. I’d seen it several times throughout my life, but thought it would be nice to go out with friends and see it on the big screen. I was delightfully surprised at all the things I had missed in the movie years ago. At one point in the story George wants to end it all because he will never be able to repay the money he had lost. He thinks his life didn’t have value and Clarence the angel takes him through a life that portrayed what would have happened if he’d never been born. What fun to see how his life had affected so many people for good and he was able to see hope again. I want my life to reflect that as well. That my life matters, and that I can look back and see the places where I made a difference in other people’s lives.
Another favorite scene is when George and his wife Mary, are ready to go on their long awaited honeymoon with their precious $2,000 in savings when they see a run on the bank beginning to happen. After helping everyone get just enough to get the through the week, they ended up with $2. George was deliriously happy to see that everyone was satisfied, and the savings and loan was saved; so he took that $2 and danced to the vault with all of his employees proclaiming “Let’s put it in the vault and see if it makes more!” As he was celebrating, he suddenly panicked, realizing he had abandoned his new wife on their honeymoon. George raced off to find Mary, probably imagining all kinds of bad scenes, only to find her preparing a beautiful feast in a rundown home with a warm fire. Just what he needed to confirm he had done the right thing and that his wife was on board for this new adventure. How different it could have turned out if either one of them had thought only of themselves and what they deserved.
George’s Idea of a Wonderful Life:
Isn’t it interesting that the wonderful life was not that everything was perfect and that George got to take that well deserved vacation or trip, but that part of his wonderful life was helping others to become free of slavery with Mr. Potter! How does that apply to my life?
Just do one thing:
Last fall I had constantly talked about how I wanted to help the community. I had read about the many ways I could step out and help, but I think I had a fear that I would get overcommitted, too tired, or that after making all that effort, it wouldn’t have changed a thing. After all, what difference could one person make? The thoughts continued to hound me. How can I look at my life differently and make a difference? To take the focus off of me and help those in need? It would have to be something scary, otherwise I might get bored! But small… otherwise I might get overwhelmed. I began to look at opportunities to help. I decided that I could do one thing. Sign up to serve a meal at the Good News Rescue Mission.
Put Action to thoughts:
I got so excited that I was finally doing something instead of complaining. When we got there, I realized there were too many of us to serve, and I started wondering if there wasn’t something else I could do. (Don’t just think about it) Even though there was a program on the stage, I wanted to touch these people face to face. Why were they here, what was their story? I began going around the tables, sitting down and loving on people. Scary, meaningful, and fun. I loved it! I asked each one how I could pray for them, and each one received prayer. Yep, I even had one refuse prayer and it scared me a little, but only for a short time.
Start by putting your name down:
Next on the list of volunteer opportunities was the Holiday Feast at our church. There were tons of opportunities but when I heard of helping out by being a bus pastor I put my name down. Over 1,000 meals are served to those less fortunate, plus an evangelical message and a play while they ate; Santa for the little ones and lots of extra clothes and goodies to choose from. Again, I was scared. My assignment was to ride the bus to pick people up and greet them at the door when they got on. Then I was supposed to love on them as they rode to the event. What if they were rude and just plain told me to get lost? Sorry, I’m easily discouraged! I do, however, love Christmas carols, so I decided to invite them to sing along. I was on a bus that only held about 8 people, so there wasn’t anywhere to hide. I had to meet them face to face. I saw young men that were drug dealers, or doing drugs, multiple generations of the same sadness and poverty, pregnant women and women with lots of children with no father in sight, all trying to be brave and act like they didn’t care. They were pretty tentative at first, but the kids joined in and we sang away. The best part was when I asked if I could pray for them, they all answered yes! I was so shocked. They bowed their heads and Jesus came and stayed with us for a while. One young man on the bus on the way home told me that we really needed to be kind to people that didn’t have anyone to be with on Christmas. It was a difficult time and many considered suicide. As he told me this tears started coming down his face and I was undone.
What Should I Do With What God Has Shown Me?
I was touched to the core about people with no family and no one to be around at Christmas. I decided that I would make baskets of food for 5 people and then ask God who to take them to on Christmas Day.
OK, so I didn’t make the baskets, I found a friend, Coleen, who did an amazing job of putting together unbelievable beauty. Thanks Coleen. To be honest, I was a little scared to go and deliver these baskets. What if they rejected me? What if they weren’t home? and it was just a silly idea? I know, crazy thoughts, but that’s what happened in my head. I wanted it to be on Christmas Day, and as I announced it to my family, I could see everyone was cozy and wasn’t interested in going out into the cold on my adventure. My daughter Amber said she would go, but then I began to worry that I would need protection. Oh yes, I’ll need protection to go and deliver a basket of food…how many more excuses could I make?
Invite People Along That Are Excited About Your Adventure.
I asked my husband two times to go with me and he was not in my boat. After all, he reminded me, it was my idea, not his. You know what? He was right. This was all my idea, and no one else’s. Stop the whining Robbie. Guess God was just letting me get myself into this little adventure all by myself. No one else had said “I want to do that too!” When I came up with the idea. Would I still go? I knew I had to. So I decided to go by myself, but not without a few moments of panic first. Suddenly in walks a breath of fresh air. A young woman Toni and her friend Lori pour in the door to wish us Merry Christmas with laughter and presents and fun stories. I tell them of my dilemma and they shout “We’ll go with you!” and thankfully my daughter Amber came too. We drove all over town delivering and singing “We wish you a Merry Christmas!” At each door we would all get out, ring the doorbell and sing. What a delight! Thank you Jesus.
What was the Reaction of the People I met?
My first stop was a woman I had met at the Rescue Mission named Jennie. She told me she used to be a biker chic and used to be meaner than I could even know. She had seen people killed and didn’t even care; but when her daughter died after being in a coma she “turned over a new leaf”. Sadly, a few weeks later she was raped by a man, became pregnant and carried that baby to term. As she told me these stories she began to cry. She then told about coming to Redding with $2 in her pocket and she swore to her kids they would never have to worry about having food on the table. Some times she worked three jobs, and now she owns her own little house and she helps others who are homeless.
I was so taken by this brave woman, I decided she had to have a basket. I had gotten her phone number when I met her because I knew some day I’d want to meet her again. I called her up and asked if we could stop by. She lives right by me! She was so shaken up when I called, she almost couldn’t remember how to get to her house. We got a little lost, but finally arrived. I was so delighted to see my group of adventurers pile out of the car and sing to her and her friend. She began to cry and just couldn’t believe that we would drive out and give her a basket and sing to her. Then we prayed for her and her friend and all was well with the world. As we were leaving she gave all the credit to God. Yes, I could do this.
We argued our way to find the next address, not quite remembering where it was, hopped out with car running, rang the doorbell and no one came…it was dark…Suddenly we realized we were at the wrong house and ran next door! and left car running in driveway! haha, we found our recipient who was delighted. and eventually remembered we had a car running in the neighbor’s driveway! Thankfully car was still there when ran back outside:)
The next house was a Chinese intern who happened to be spending Christmas alone. I hope we brightened her day.
Be Prepared to Have an Alternate Plan:
Next was an apartment in one of the poorest areas of Redding. This woman had asked on the bus what everyone was doing for Christmas. This was the one the man had cried about earlier in my story, worrying that she was all alone on Christmas. I only knew her apartment number so up we went. A little scary, but knocked on the door. No one home. I couldn’t believe it. She had to be home. The neighbor opened her door and I saw her pit bull by her side. Ok, I was a little nervous at this point. I told her I was trying to find her neighbor and she said “She’s never home”.
I knew I couldn’t leave her basket, and if I left it with the neighbor she would never get it. But I looked at the woman and thought “I bet she could use a basket.” So we met Stephanie, who was home alone on Christmas day. We sang to her, prayed for her and hope we left her with the light of Jesus.
Last stop was a family that had been on the bus to the Holiday Feast. I remembered where they lived and dropped off a basket there. She was so surprised to see us, and when we sang, her little ones came crawling out to see us. By then we were all pretty tired, but happy with our Christmas Day adventure.
I was shocked at how excited I was by going out and delivering baskets. I know there’s something stirring inside of me. Reminds me of when I first got saved and began to feed the homeless on the streets. Good days. Good adventures. And for a while, I forgot about my own stuff and went out and did something instead of complaining that “Someone should do something about these homeless people.” I didn’t solve world peace, I didn’t solve the homeless problem in Redding, I just loved on a few people. It felt good. Maybe part of the pain I’ve experienced in the past can be healed by helping others through their pain. I know this is a part of my story to get to “A Wonderful Life”.