Every Time A Bell Rings …


Among the most popular holiday movies, and a family tradition for many during the Christmas season, It’s a Wonderful Life, is about a divine intervention by a guardian angel to help a man in distress. It opens with a fanciful depiction of angels in heaven discussing a problem that has come up. They are receiving prayers asking to help George Bailey (James Stewart) who is about to hurt himself, and they need to send an angel down to earth to stop him. They select Clarence (Henry Travers), a somewhat down-on-his-luck angel who hasn’t earned his wings yet, but the senior angels promise he will get them if he succeeds.

On Christmas Eve in Bedford Falls, Clarence is assigned to convince the desperate George Bailey to not commit suicide. George is a good man, who sacrificed his dreams and his youth on behalf of the citizens of his small town to carry on his father’s loan business. He married his beloved Mary Hatch Bailey and had four children with her and a struggling beginning with his family barely making it.

George’s nemesis is the greedy banker, Mr. Potter, who is looking for a chance to buy George out so he can monopolize the town’s money and drive up interest rates. George is fighting to carry on his father’s tradition of keeping loans affordable, and helping people get started, so that the good, hard-working people of Bedford Falls can afford to own their own homes. When $8,000 George owes the bank is lost and found by Potter, the evil banker secretly keeps the money and uses it as an opportunity to drive George out of business, because he can’t make up the loss. Totally distraught, George decides to commit suicide, wishing he had never lived in the first place, and telling himself his life insurance policy would make up the loss. That’s when Clarence steps in and is able to use his angelic powers to grant George his wish by borrowing a page out of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and magically going back in time to show George what the town of Bedford Falls would look like if he had never existed. In the end, like a reformed Ebenezer Scrooge, George gets his life back, abandons his suicide attempt and happily races home, there to find that the whole town has come together and raised the $8,000 to save George and his business. Upon seeing this, George concludes that he indeed has “a wonderful life” after all, and, of course, Clarence gets his wings.

Marti wants to know …

George Bailey represents many of our Catch Citizens, and we also know almost as many people here at the Catch who could go by the name of Clarence. Tell us your stories as either George Bailey or Clarence and we will post them without using your names.

I am very serious about this request.

There are many people who see the Catch as a beacon of hope, the only one they can see in their sometimes dire struggles to live out their convictions and their relationships with Christ. These are real people, men and women who have real names and needs, and many are in real pain for multiple of reasons somewhere here in this real world.

These people look a lot like you.

And that is why I implore you to tell each other your stories. We all could handle a little encouragement as we experience a head-on collision between the anticipation of the Advent and our lonely lives starving for hope.  

We need your stories — your real stories — your George Bailey stories about someone who fumbled their way into your life and changed it. And we need your real stories about when you were convinced God must have run short on angels, because he assigned you to someone you were completely unqualified to tend to — but did.

I am repeating the word “real” intentionally. I want you to tell your story as it happened and not after it was Christianized.

Please don’t make me nag – I really want your stories so we can encourage each other. Will it take time you do not have? Yes. Do I have a prize if you do? No. Will it offer an opportunity to connect with one another now and especially during this season? Yes. Will it benefit someone else? I don’t know, and am no longer sure it matters, as long as it recalls a time when you encountered the power of the Lord during a stressful season or when He worked through you because there were no available angels to take the call. Who knows? Maybe you are a little bit more hopeful than you thought, or maybe you missed, among all of the Christmas mail, your certificate awarding you your wings.

Who knows? It doesn’t matter. What matters are your true and simple stories that encourage the George Baileys of the Catch to stop causing harm to themselves, and to those around them. What also matters is the astonishing reality that the Lord works through all of us, fumbling fools that we are.

[Enter your story in the reply box below or send to me direct at john.fischer@mac.com.]


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12 Responses to Every Time A Bell Rings …

  1. David Gunzel says:

    I am no longer surprised at the ways and times God has presentd me with opportunities of be his Messenger. One lady used to call me Clarence after God used me to meet her needs.

    This year God has provided extra funds so I can help to bring joy and cheer to a Shelte for Abused women and kids. God surely blesses me more than them

    What better place to be than “Available”??


  2. Mark Seguin says:

    My “It’s a Wonderful Like Story,” which I’ve shared before here on the Catch, yet will again: It goes back to November of 1984. I was in a very serious car accident, of which I have no memory of it. What I do recall while in a coma, which I was in a deep one for 3 months, after that while struggling to come in & out of it (for another couple of months) – I remember waking up daily and not knowing where I was or what had happen to me. (they call it a semi-coma, or stages of waking up from one)

    I remember thinking I must have took my spiritual believes a bit to seriously and went a bit loony, becauz I’d see this men in white jackets walking around all day. (the Doctors) and my Dad, jokingly would call me a Jesus Freak. (this was before he became a believer) Plus and they used to keep me strapped down in bed @ night, becauz I’d often wud try to run out of there and they were afraid if I were to fall down and hit my head, more-then-likely I’d go back into a deep coma.

    So this one night they had tied the strap’s real tight & I was struggling so hard to get out of them and I remember crying my God why is this happening to me and just where am I!?! Then I remembered this song I LOVED hearing this very nice lady sing @ Church, “The Chains that seemed to binned you, will drop helplessly behind you – when you Praise The Lord” Before I sung that song (or the parts I cud remember) I thought, OK God I don’t know where I am and what’s happened to me, but I know you do! So I’ll praise you…

    I sung that and feel asleep. I woke up the next morning, or I think it was has my parents walked into my hospital room – they could tell by the color of my face & i was smiling that I finally had awoken from the come – My Mother fell to her knees crying & thanking God – My Dad ran over to my bed crying a hugging me – They told me I had been in a car accident months ago and beed in a coma.

    It was a glories day that I’ll never forget and it truly is a Wonderful life with my Catch buddies! 🙂

  3. 9 yrs ago my husband was killed in a logging accident. We had a good marriage for 32 yrs, not perfect however we genuinely loved the other –more than on our wedding day-he was my best friend. Of course I was shell shocked & at times very angry with God. I tried to leave God behind –He followed until I turned round again–something He has done all my life. Looking back I have seen so many instances of God’s Clarences in my life-[for grief goes on, it is never over] There was a net work of friends at the beginning esp one friend named Lynn–she stayed with me for those first days after the funeral taking care of basic needs like talking, food etc–just being there. Lynn is a councillor, works within a church as a youth & family coordinator–she didn’t spout God & His love for me –she showed it. Over the years, esp at the first, when pain was all I felt, there were other Clarences, humble. fumble & caring to get me over those rough patches. I wonder how many little bells chimed that I never heard?! The pain has eased with time, I have 2 daughters & Grandchildren that also help me breathe again.. only for those Clarences scattered thru these last 9 yrs have I come forward to see how I can maybe help others with a newly acquired understanding of loss & grief. Jesus is always throwing us a lifeline, thank God He uses other people to show us.

  4. Kris Rudin says:

    I have a chronic illness, that has taken me from an avid amateur athlete to a home-bound, fully disabled person. Obviously, I have struggled with depression because of this. One day, when I was struggling mightily, feeling abandoned by God, I had a massage scheduled (one of the few things that helps my symptoms.) As I lay there on the table, suddenly I knew that it was JESUS who was giving me the massage. I could feel His hands, so different from those of my masseuse. I could feel His tender love for me, as He ministered to me. I’ve never felt anything like that, before or since. That memory is something I draw on all the time, when I start to think that God doesn’t care. I remember that day, and I KNOW He does! So, I guess I was George Bailey and my massage therapist was Clarence, letting God work through her. (Several weeks later, I shared with her what had happened – I couldn’t talk about it that day. She was so touched, and said she prays for her clients all the time, while she’s working on them. She had no idea at the time how God was using her – a Clarence who didn’t even know it! 😉

  5. Colleen says:

    Okay, I will bite! As I have stated everyone know I never had a good relationship with my mother. It was my turn to watch her for 3 days while her husband had surgery and I was dreading it. The first day I showed up with my son who wasn’t even 2 yet and the days event were miserable and I thought, Oh God I have 2 more days of this?! So when I got home, I prayed and asked the Lord what would he do if He had to care for my mother for a day and to help me get through it. The next morning came and I was running out the door when I remember I needed to get my Mary Kay bag. I grabbed it and got there on time, only for her to start in, “Don’t let that baby near the stairs!!!” I cringed, but something changed, I said isn’t he coming home tomorrow? She gave a faint smile ( my mother had Parkinson’s disease and was bed ridden at this point). So this Clarence, washed her hair, gave her a pedi and manicure, applied make-up and blew dry her hair. Changed her clothes, so she would look adorned when her husband returned. The next day, I made sure she looked freshen and she glowed when her husband walked in as she pointed out her polished hands. I left knowing that the Lord really did babysit her, because He sees her in a way I can’t.

  6. Sandie says:

    This is a rather long story, as it transpired over several years. I used to work at a high school in mid-state NY – my job description covered anything and everything to do with student supervision and discipline; it entailed the ridiculous and the outright dangerous. There was a student, a good-looking young man with talent and brains, who deliberately broke every rule. Unfortunately, he came from a family of privilege and local power – his step-dad was the county DA and managed to get him off the hook and immune to any disciplinary action. As a result, he had many run-ins with me through his high school years. Things got worse when tragedy struck his family, his step-brother disappeared one winter night and his body wasn’t discovered until spring when the ice thawed on the river. This young man really went off the deep end, quitting sports teams and drinking heavily. Finally he graduated and went off to a Christian college, where I heard he got saved. He married his high school sweetheart and they had a baby; he was attending the police academy. Then tragedy struck again. His mom attended a women’s bible study with me, and came one day in tears. A close friend of this young man had committed suicide; now he was in a deep depression and she was worried he was considering the same. Of course we all prayed with her for the situation, then went home. There was no peace for me though; the Holy Spirit hammered away at me to do something. My immediate thought was – this kid hates my guts…I couldn’t remember one pleasant experience with him – why would he even listen to me? Still, the Spirit gave me no rest. So I sat down and wrote a letter. I won’t relate the particulars as they are too personal…but I let him have it in no uncertain terms. Putting it into the mail, I figured if he didn’t hate me already, he surely would after reading what I had written! The next time we had bible study, his mom rushed to me and clasped me in a big hug. She shared that a change had come over her son after reading my letter – it seems my words reached him when even the pastor’s or his wife’s couldn’t. The next time I saw this young man was Christmas service, where I was up front getting ready to sing. He rushed past people that were trying to greet him to get to me…and gave me such a hug I thought I heard my bones crack! His wife later shared that I said things to him that no one else dared. That was the way I had always been with him…and every other teen I ever worked with. Because I was always honest, fair and consistent…even in anger…the groundwork had already been laid years before I ever wrote that letter…through the Holy Spirit that young man recognized truth in my words. If I never did anything else for the Lord, being used by Jesus to save this young man…and his family…it would be worth every minute of angst I endured in my ministry to teens.

  7. I have been acting like George, running hard, problems piled up and not taking them to the only place I show go first of all. I have a multitude of counselors and I am blessed, but someone had a need I could not fulfill. I racked my brain thinking of solutions, then like that ring of a bell, I knew where to go, right to the arms of my Father in heaven, to my LORD and Savior and looking to the Holy Spirit for comfort. Why do I wait so long, why do I continue to forget, but all of a sudden the pressure was gone and I was praising and thanking Him with my whole heart. These questions are awesome and I just had to put in this last amazing two days where His love rescued me once again! Cynthia

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