It’s that time of year. The marvel of the movie, starring Jimmy Steward will just never go away. I know most of you have seen it a half dozen times, and each time it is the same knee-jerking, tear flowing, heart rending story.
Seems there was this family man, who was interested in helping the ‘down-and-outers’. He loans them money to build a home and when one of his employees misplaced a large sum of money, and his adversary, a dirty old man in town found and hid it, he was faced with bankruptcy.
Having nothing but a life insurance policy, and given the discouragement that “You’re worth more dead than alive”, he went to the bridge, and was about to jump off and commit suicide.
Clarence (an angel, trying to win his wings) was dispatched, and jumped in hollering, “I can’t swim, save me”. Now the would be suicide made a heroic dive and saved Clarence. Not accepting the story that Clarence was an angel, he blurted out with the final statement, “I wished I had never been born!”
Well, you know the rest of the story and how it all turned out on a happy note singing, “Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind.”
When the replay of that movie ended, I sat transfixed before the tube thinking. Why has this particular movie survived low these many years (half a century), when most just stack up in some movie collection or museum. Why this one? What is so special about the story of “It’s A Wonderful Life?”
For the first time in all these years I knew. What if I had never been conceived, prayed over and finally delivered. Nashville, Tennessee would be one less statistic. The long hard trip as a babe in arms to Miami, along with 8 other family members would have never occurred. Looking back on 74 years, I really began the journey for the first time of asking the simple yet complex question, “What if I had never been born?”
I would have never known the rare beauty and marvel of a mother who was stone deaf for 65 or 80 years. She never heard any one of her 7 children speak or laugh or cry. She didn’t sign, but was one who developed through the years the tremendous ability of reading lips. In pre-school days, I watched her scrub and wash 9 stacks of clothes, hanging the last on the line as the sun grew weary and fell in the west. I would never have known the beloved father who worked so very hard to feed, clothe and shelter a family of nine. My three brothers and sisters would have never known the little red headed kid they called brother.
I thought of all my growing up days and the classmates that left their indelible impression on my life and mine on theirs. I mentally journeyed through the year book of my college days and remembered that I never dated a single girl during those years. I had met and fallen in love in the month of August in my senior year of high school. Ann was my only love, the marvelous wife, the beautiful mother, and my life long friend. Looking back over our 54 years together, I would have never known her if I had never been born.
The multitude of days, the wonder of years, the lifetime of being a writer and minister, missionary, and on the road speaker would have never happened. The sons, the daughters, the grandchildren, the great grandchildren would not be, if I had never been born. The victories, the defeats, the tears, the wisdom, the foolishness, the hours of prayer, the call for forgiveness, the skiing down sunshine mountain, the holidays, the songs, the friends, the mistakes, the growth, the corrections, the funerals, the struggles and all the in-betweens would all be erased if I had never been born.
These are the things I was thinking as I clicked off the T.V. and sat still in my old worn out recliner. What a wonderful life it is and has been when you see it through the passing of time.
If your interest does not fail in the reading of these musings, just lay the paper aside and apply the question to your own life. I know now why no one has ever written on this rather personal subject. It’s always a risk to think about yourself, and even a greater risk to put it in words. So go back to the beginning of your own life. Recall those intimate events and special happening, and sum it up with the total effect of just how important your life has been.
The apostle Paul summed it up in a beautiful way when he wrote, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge shall give me in that day; and not to me only but to all those who love his appearing” (II Timothy 4:7-8).