For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
It was the night before Christmas (and all through the house…just kidding, I couldn’t help myself) when I fell asleep while watching my favorite Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life! It is tragic if you have not seen this movie. But because we are friends, I will ignore this lapse in judgment, but you must promise me that you will not let the Christmas season go by without watching it.
The film takes place in the fictional town of Bedford Falls and stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a man whose attempted suicide on Christmas Eve gains the attention of his guardian angel, Clarence, who is sent to help him in his hour of need. Most of the film is told through flashbacks spanning George’s entire life and narrated by unseen angels who are preparing Clarence for his mission to save George. Through these flashbacks we see all the people whose lives have been touched by George and the difference he has made to the community in which he lives.
George Bailey longed for a life of adventure, he desired to travel and see the world. Yet George’s life was confined to Bedford Falls, and he never did stretch his wings and fly away. I love the last scene of this movie. In it he discovers his life is not one of disappointment but rather divine appointment. Surrounded by his family and friends, George Bailey realizes it is a really good thing that life didn’t go according to his plan. For there was a better plan for George Bailey, and it took an angel in need of wings to reveal this truth to him.
A few years ago while watching It’s a Wonderful Life, I drifted off to sleep in the middle of the movie. I wasn’t asleep for very long before I was startled awake by a noise. Something was definitely off. Once fully awake, I realized it was the sound of burglars breaking into our house! No, I wasn’t dreaming about the Grinch, these were real-life present stealers sneaking in to steal Christmas. At first I couldn’t breathe. I was frozen with fear. Wide-eyed and shaking with fear, I jump off the couch and did the only thing this Texas girl knew to do in a situation like this, I yelled from the bottom of my lungs, “Daddy, get the gun!”
Those four words sent those two would-be present bandits running for the county line. When I yelled for armed backup, the robbers bolted out the door.
Over an hour later, after the police came and went, and the tree was double checked for missing trinkets, I found myself back on the couch where the whole ordeal began. Wrapped in a blanket and watching George Bailey discover his wonderful life.
My eyes were the size of saucers, there was absolutely no way I was going to fall asleep after that ordeal. My heart was pounding so loudly that I could hear the thud in my ears. And then my imagination began to take over, and I played through my mind all of the “what ifs” of the evening. I wanted to sleep but I was too wound-up and freaked-out to get any shut eye.
I stared at the TV for another ten minutes before I heard my dad walking through the house. My dad came in the family room where I was watching TV and took a seat in his chair. There is something about dad’s presence. Almost instantly, I lowered my head onto the sofa cushion and nestled in to watch as Bedford Falls celebrated George’s return home and the saving of the old Building and Loan. It is one of my favorite moments in movie history. I especially enjoyed the sweetness of it this night. For that scene says, “Everything is going to be OK.”
And something in my heart felt that was the case. For when my dad entered the room and sat in his chair, my worried heart ceased its fretting and my breathing returned to the slow deep breaths of the weary. Peace restored. Within minutes I was fast asleep.
Reflecting on that night I know there was a deep connection between my ability to rest and my belief. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that with my father in the room I was completely safe. Nothing and no one would harm me. My confidence in that truth told my worried heart to “fret not” and my anxious mind to “fear not”—all would be just fine. And this girl went fast to sleep.
The same rest is available for us. As believers in Jesus Christ, our faith rests in the One whom the prophet Isaiah called The Prince of Peace.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”.
On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Peace is a state of harmony, the assurance of well-being.
How does this Prince leave us with His peace? When we know God through Jesus Christ as our Savior, then the peace of God rules our hearts. Like a warm blanket, His presence envelopes the child of God with assurance. Assurance of His love, care, protection and provision. Deep soul peace is first of all the result of the forgiveness which Jesus gives us. Peace is also the state of a soul that can rest for it knows that God is seated in “his chair,” the throne of heaven. Our hearts are quieted with the knowledge that our God is faithfully working all things for our good. When focused on Jesus, the worried heart can cease its fretting. His presence is our peace when we choose to trust in Him and rest in His promises.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Marian Jordan Ellis, RGM Founder & President