“Thanks for Everything!”
By Steve Hearts
Paul says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” In Proverbs we read that “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord.”1 And Jesus said that He has chosen and ordained us.2 These scriptures, along with others, make it clear that our lives are guided with divine purpose by our Creator.
In spite of the truth of these verses, during moments when life is complicated and confusing, I wonder what might have happened if things had turned out just a little different, and I wish I could go back and do them over.
It was during just such a moment the other day that I listened to one of my favorite movies: Mr. Destiny. It all happens on the day Larry Burrows, played by James Belushi, turns 35—my age. Twenty years earlier, Larry struck out in the last at-bat during his high school baseball championship game, and has regretted it ever since. So on this, his 35th birthday, which seems to be forgotten by everyone except his best friend, and is made worse when he gets laid off from his job, he finds himself reflecting on that baseball game and wishing he’d been able to win it.
As he is making his way home, his car quits on him. He calls a tow truck, and goes into a nearby bar while waiting. Mike, the bartender, played by Michael Caine, is friendly and sympathetic. What is more, he knows everything about Larry, including his regret from twenty years ago. Mike makes Larry a drink he calls “The Spilt Milk,” which takes him back in time so he can live his life as it would have been had he won the game. He finds his life totally altered in every aspect. Most disconcerting of all, he is married to someone else, as is his wife, Ellen. He is not happy about this and tries to change things back. But in doing so, he ends up jeopardizing both his job and his life.
Mercifully, before the worst could occur, he finds himself in the bar with Mike again. His life is totally back to normal, and he has a new appreciation for his many blessings. He gets home to a surprise birthday party organized by Ellen. His boss unexpectedly stops by and offers him a better position with the same company. Happy as Larry is about all this, more importantly he is free of regrets and determined to live life to the full without focusing on the might-have-beens.
Listening to this movie, I’m reminded that life is no bed of roses for any of us. We all have problems, and we’ve all done things we wish we could either do over again or undo altogether. We all experience pain, disappointment, and even failure. But we shouldn’t let these things stop us from counting our blessings, appreciating what we have, and moving forward with today. As Mike says to Larry at one point in the film, “This is your life, Larry. Learn to enjoy what you’ve got.”
Sure, second chances do come around, and I’m all for taking advantage of them. But as the saying goes, “We can get nowhere today when we’re tied down in yesterday.”
For those of us who know Jesus, we are learning every day that passes to trust Him for His plan for each of our lives and His ability to work all things together for good, including our disappointments, failures, etc. After all, He knew each of us before we were even born. He says in Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”3
After listening to this movie, I decided to regularly tell Jesus what Larry told Mike once the experience was all over: “Thanks for everything—the good and the bad. Whatever you’ve got planned for the rest of my life, it’s perfect.”
Of course, there have been and will yet be times throughout each of our lives when trusting God for our life and where it has taken us will be easier said than done. But with His help, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us; and nothing can change the fact that each of us has been chosen by Him for a purpose.