Our man movie series will largely follow the list posted over at Art of Manliness, 100 Must See Movies: The Essential Men's Movie Library. It is our goal to showcase the value of cinema as a platform for letting story teach us about our world. Culture shapes and molds much of how we view the definition of masculinity. Movies serve as a platform upon which a cast and crew can convey their worldview and message. Movie goers are subjected to these viewpoints, whether cognizant of that fact or not. Our purpose in reviewing the films in this series is to highlight the good and bad of the movie, cross-examining it with what the Bible has to say about manliness. These posts are in conjunction with the Men’s Roundtable Ministry of Grace Church in South Carolina. For more information on Grace Church and MRT, go here: Grace Church Men's Ministry
Today’s post is written by one of my best friends, Mitch Miller. Mitch is newly married and works as a youth minister at Grace Church.
I have a confession to make. My favorite movie is It’s a Wonderful Life.
Last Christmas season I watched it four times. The other day I was home with strep throat and watched it. I could watch it a million times. I cry every time.
And for all of you who just judged me, I forgive you.
I know there is some pretty strange theology in it (“every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings” for starters), but the overarching messages are definitely, definitely Biblical.
And one of those messages is this:
Nobody gets the life they want until they want the life they’ve got.
If that was a tweet, I’d hashtag #thankfulness and #contentment.
At the star of the movie, George Bailey doesn’t want anything to do with his life. He doesn’t want to live in Bedford Falls. He doesn’t want to get married. He doesn’t want to work at the Building and Loan.
What he really wants to do is travel the world, go to college, be an architect and “do something important.”
What he can’t realize, until he is given the chance to see what the world would be like without him, is how getting married, staying in Bedford Falls and running the Building and Loan has given him a chance to do something so much more important (not to mention joyful) than his original plans. As everyone storms his house to give him money and get him out of trouble (uncle Billy lost $8,000 and the bank examiner wasn’t happy) he realizes he’s “the richest man in town.”
I love this aspect of the movie because it speaks loud and clear to me. I’m the type of person who will tell you, “God’s plan is perfect” while in the back of my mind wishing for just a little bit more of ____________ fill in the blank.
More ministry. More leadership. More money. More time. More chances. More opportunities. Bigger. Better. Different.
But once in a while, at some random moment, I will come back to the realization that I actually have a wonderful life. Sure, I have problems. Yes, sometimes things go crazy. But God is at work for my good and his glory. And a lot of the things I consider ordinary are actually incredible gifts of God I might miss out on should I wander away in search for something more.
Ecclesiastes constantly reminds us not to “strive after wind” but to enjoy the simple things we already have like our job, family and food.
Basically, the author of Ecclesiastes says that if you had everything you want given to you today, you would have a new wish list by tomorrow.
George Bailey never got his wish. His brother got off the train with a new wife and a new job. George wasn’t going anywhere. He had to stay in Bedford Falls and run the Building and Loan so the “common ordinary yokels” could live in affordable housing (which, by the way, is a great example of using a “secular” job for ministry). What he didn’t know is that this was the best thing that ever happened to him.
We can take a lesson from this movie: to want what we already have. Enjoy what you’ve been given; be thankful for the life God has given you!
He has given you the family you have.
He has given you the things you have.
He has placed you amongst the people you know.
He has given you the task of following him.
God has given us a wonderful life. Let us show our thanks by living it.
“…be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”
- Mitch Miller