I just watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the first time last night. I know, I know. I think the opening scene with blinking stars talking to each other put me off enough to change the channel in the past, but they were talking about how…wonderful…it was on my favorite podcast so I decided to give it a chance. Pretty good! It was interesting to see how many lives were impacted for the better all because of one man’s seemingly inconsequential existence.
What is truly crazy is that each of our lives are just as impactful as George Bailey’s. The ripples of every decision we make irrevocably alter the world around us for eternity: the job we take or refuse; the year or two we wait to have children; the friendships we invest time into; the relationships cultivated or left fallow with our next door neighbors; even the choice to respond with kindness or criticism towards a spouse or other family members: it all matters.
Of course, we’ll drive ourselves crazy if we hem and haw over every little decision. Whether we eat Mint Chocolate Chip or Rocky Road may have little effect on the future; it’s whether or not we berate or thank our husband for picking up the ice cream, even when he fails to bring home our very favorite flavor. Whether we’re playing an after-dinner game of SkyJo or Catan, Jr. doesn’t matter so much; it’s the fact that we’re spending quality family time together!
The most important thing is to know our values and try our best to live by them every single day. In our case, as Christians, that means being in the word of God so we are consistently reminded of how Jesus calls us to live! His ways are way better than ours, after all.
If, as a rule, we treat others as more important than ourselves, we can’t go wrong. If our lives are anchored in thankfulness to God for our salvation; love, compassion, and a perpetual posture of forgiveness towards one another, I think we can stop second-guessing our every decision and live freely within the parameters God has lovingly laid out for his children. And when we mess up, as we will do often, we can immediately seek forgiveness and restoration of relationship. We will fall a lot, as we learn to walk close to Jesus, but with practice and determination we’ll grow steadier and surer; not of ourselves but of him.
Can I be honest? Sometimes I feel like I’m still crawling, at least in some areas of my life. I’m a bit of a control freak in certain situations, and I am praying for God to help me loosen the reins and trust him more. That woman that complains when ninety-nine things are right and one thing is wrong? I don’t want that to be me. I want to choose gentleness and create margin for relationships not strained by unrealistic expectations. I can see how the ripples of my attitude towards those closest to me could change the current of the way we interact for years to come. God calls us to love one another well, and the most important impact we will have in this world starts with how we interact with the people who sit across the dinner table from us every night.
I am so thankful for God’s word, which illuminates a way of life that is profitable and excellent, and most of all, pleasing to the Lord. It also shines the light on what is not. I’m equally thankful for that. The beautiful (painful, but beautiful) thing about seeing our own sin is the opportunity it affords for us to repent of it and change the way we operate in the future.
God chose to place his love on us: failed, flawed, messed up us. The best and wisest decision we will ever make is to love him back and follow him each and every day. That is the only path towards a truly wonderful life: one that opens the door to eternity with the One who loves us beyond comprehension.
What decisions can you make, right now, that will flow into eternity and make a positive impact on the world around you?
Pretty cool to think about, isn’t it?
Love you guys.