Miracle on 34th Street

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:14-17 ESV)

Valentine Davies was born in New York, died in Hollywood, served in the Coast Guard, graduated from the University of Michigan, wrote a number of Broadway plays, served as president of the Screen Writers Guild, was general chairman of the Academy Awards program, and yet few would remember his name. But his Christmas classic "Miracle on 34th Street” is remembered by anyone who "believes." The 1947 novel "Miracle on 34th Street" became a movie the same year, earning the author an Academy Award for the Best Original Story. The film itself was nominated for the top picture. Edmund Gwenn, who played Kriss Kringle, won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and George Seaton received one of the gold statues for his screenplay of Davies’ story. Though not an award winner for this effort, child actor Natalie Wood won the hearts of viewers as Susan Walker, the little girl whose doubt in the existence of Santa Claus is transformed by her association with Gwenn’s Kriss Kringle. It has become one of the classics of the Christmas season. It is a story of transformation.

Transformation is often both ugly and beautiful! Caterpillars are ugly, yet they become one of the most beautiful creatures of God’s design. Once an animal covered with ugly black hair becomes a butterfly splashed with amazing colors; once an animal that lives off the leaves on the ground becomes the connoisseur of flower nectar; and, once a creature that once crawled everywhere becomes one that can fly everywhere. We’re not talking makeover here. We’re talking miracle!

The Creator who so miraculously transforms caterpillars does something far more amazing; He does it for people, like you and me. He did it for Bill Hadley. He was a handsome, successful man, with a fatal flaw, alcohol. He’d been hooked since he was 12 years old, and no one could get him unhooked, including himself. His addiction eventually cost him his job, his relationship with his family, even his freedom, landing him in prison for a while. He was, in essence, crawling through life on a caterpillar level because of something inside him he couldn’t change. So one night Bill Hadley decided to die. He was on his way to Lake Michigan in Chicago to end his life when he heard this vaguely familiar song coming out of an old rescue mission. It was a song his mother used to sing. He decided to go in for a minute, never dreaming that the caterpillar that went into that mission would emerge a butterfly. From that night on, Bill Hadley never touched a drop of alcohol again. He became a wonderful husband, a loving father, and a respected spokesman for the God who changed his life. That night he was planning to die, Bill Hadley began a new life, by beginning a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Your struggles with your own darkness may be different from Bill Hadley’s, however, the same kind of miracle can happen to you. It’s described in today’s reading. Trying to be reformed can only change you on the outside. Jesus offers to transform you from the inside out, to make what had been so ugly into something so beautiful. It’s time to let Jesus do what only He can do. Are you ready for that today?