thoughts on Les Misérables

It’s been a while since I’ve felt compelled to write a few thoughts about a film, but Les Misérables (2012) left a really strong impression on me.

Not only did the film meet my fairly high expectations – amazing acting, music, singing – it was as epic as the trailers make it out to be! But it was the storyline that touched me on a deeper level.

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*SPOILER ALERT*

The film begins with the release of the convict, Jean Valjean, after he has served a 19 year sentence for stealing a piece of bread.  Though he is a free man, he has been labelled a dangerous man and cannot find a place that would give him work or a shelter from the cold.  He eventually makes it to the doors of a church where the Bishop residing there gives him food and shelter for the night.  While all the household is asleep, Valjean steals all the silver and runs off.  Of course, he is caught by the authorities are brought back before the Bishop.  However, instead of condemning Valjean, the Bishop states that he gave the convict the silver and demands that Valjean be set free. Ashamed of his crime and touched by, Valjean vowed to live an honest life under a new identity.

Without going into too much extra detail, Valjean later becomes a respectable man in society but his past catches up to him in the form of his old parole guard, Javert.  Javert views Jean Valjean as ‘once a thief, always a thief’ and once his real identity was revealed, Javert was determined to bring Valjean down.  However, later on during the revolution, the tables turn and Javert is at the mercy of Valjean.  Instead of taking his revenge, Valjean gives grace to Javert and spares his life.  Javert is confused but determined to ‘give justice’ when he is in the position of power again.  Unfortunately, he is unable to pull the trigger on Valjean the next time he had a chance and so, he concludes that if he cannot give justice, he can no longer live – so he commits suicide.

For me, in this story of redemption and forgiveness, Javert represented the ‘law’.  Law is something that constantly condemns.  It is rigid and is something that we can never quite measure up to, no matter what good we do, we cannot undo our past and it will be held against you forever.

However, there is God’s grace as depicted by the Bishop and then Valjean.  Grace see the potential for greatness.  Grace gives an opportunity for change.  And when the law is touched by grace, it must die.  It cannot exist in conjunction with the law.

The law says you are damned because of what you have done.  Grace says that you don’t deserve it, but you will be given freedom and forgiveness anyway.

“To love another person is to see the face of God.”

– Ames –

P.S. Clearly I wasn’t the only one who saw this parallel – see http://thegospelcoalition.org/mobile/article/tgc/law-and-grace-in-les-mis

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That’s the word that comes to mind as I reflect on the day… though not everything went to plan, they worked out perfectly because of 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.

I love to picture it like a jigsaw puzzle… We pick up a piece and think it’s supposed to fit in a certain place, but then God picks up another piece and says, ‘Here, this is the one that’s meant to go in next.’  He reveals it to us step by step, enough that we know which piece to put in place, but not enough to see the full picture yet until the masterpiece is finished.  Then we’ll be able to stand back in awe of the wonderful picture that he was putting together for us, for our benefit, for us to enjoy… for His ultimate glory.
God, you are so good.
– Ames –

It’s all about perspective

Priscilla Shirer tells the story of how her parents once took their extended family on a trip to New York.  For some reason, her brother-in-law Jesse, who was a very big footballer build kind of guy, was always eating very small meals for the first few nights that they went out for dinner.

She asked him [paraphrased of course], “Jesse, are you alright?  How come you are eating so little?”

Jesse said, “Oh yes, I’m fine.  It’s just that these fancy restaurants are so expensive and I have a whole family to feed so I just eat a little something at the dinner table and then I go outside afterwards and get me a hotdog.”

Priscilla: “Didn’t you get the memo?”

Jesse: “What memo?”

Priscilla: “Mom and Dad sent an email before the trip that each family covers the meals for their family for breakfast and lunch but then for dinner, they will cover the tab.”

Jesse: “WHAT?!!!”

Jesse then motions to the waiter to bring the menu and orders the biggest steak and potatoes he can find.

Lesson: When you have access to the resources, the way you look at the menu changes.

This simple story really spoke to me this morning.  Though there is no job yet lined up for next year, I know that I have access to the God who provides all my needs according to His riches in Heaven.  And not only do I have access to Him, but He’s proven Himself faithful over the years to give the very best to those who love Him.  So, why worry?

You can have access to this awesome God too.

It’s simple: “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

Saved – not just for Heaven but for this life  – He came to give us life and life more abundantly! (John 10:10b)

– Ames