On a scale of 1 to 10, how
optimistic are you about your future? In that great
mid-life crisis movie, City Slickers, (a great movie
for Father’s Day) Billy Crystal plays Mitch, a
confused, dissatisfied character with a vague sense
that life is passing him by. It’s during the scene
of Mitch’s 40th birthday party that we get a true
glimpse into his psyche. He is depressed and worried
and it’s draining the joy out of his life.
Mitch and his friends decide to go on a real old
fashion, cowboy cattle drive. Jack Palance plays
Curly-an ancient, leathery, wise to the ways of the
world (“a saddlebag with eyes”) – who during the
movie asks Mitch if he would like to know the secret
“It’s this,” Curly says, holding up a single finger.
“The secret of life is your finger?” asks Crystal.
“It’s one thing,” Curly replies. “The secret of life
is just one thing. Once you figure out what that one
thing is, you will know the meaning of life.”
Somehow this resonates deeply with Billy Crystal’s
character. His life is scattered. He is torn between
his obligation to his family and his desire for
career advancement; between his need for security
and his appetite for excitement. His life is about
many things, and so, he senses, it is about nothing.
Curly was the unlikely angel that leads Mitch to
find the “One Thing!” Mitch’s attitude changes and a
smile returns to his face. It’s not about the smile
on the outer layer; it’s about the joy that was
rediscovered deep inside. The Bible says, “A
cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22).
Although I like the “One Thing” theology, I’m not convinced Mitch
found it. Nowhere in the film does Crystal’s character call out to
God. We Christians know that a joy filled life begins with a
passionate, vibrant, relationship with Jesus. Once you have that,
Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit and that brings 9 fruits of the
spirit into our lives. (Galatians 5:22) And catch this; one of those
fruits is Joy. If you have Jesus, this fruit is already in your
life. You don’t need a mid-life crisis cattle drive to discover Joy
again. You just need to rediscover the Joy that comes with living
your life with Jesus.
[Ron Otto, Lincoln Christian Church]