I’ve been to see the latest blockbuster production of Les Miserables. Its the film everyone’s been talking about and has won numerous awards. (Rightly so in my humble opinion). It has always been my favourite musical and I have been reading anything and everything to do with this latest rendering of the timeless Victor Hugo story, even the original book!
For me the film was about more than the acting and the production, as superb as all that undoubtedly is. It is about the bigger human themes that we can all identify with and the eternal themes of love, redemption, forgiveness and sacrifice. Needless to say along with most everyone there I cried a great deal and was overwhelmed by the end, in a nice way.
What is remarkable is that the story really centres around the transformation of one man’s life and how that impacts on all those with whom he comes into contact. Its about the possibility of change, of living differently, of finding unconditional love and the power of that love to give and to sacrifice itself for others.
This transformation isn’t just made up in a book or for the film, its something that is freely available to each and every one of us if we want it. My life had gotten into quite a mess before I realised that I couldn’t run it myself, I needed help to change the way things were. In ten very tear stained pages of an old exercise book I poured out my hurt and my heart to God. It felt like a last act of desperation at the time but looking back it was the first act of starting all over again on a new journey.
This journey has been an amazing roller coaster as I’ve lived through the twists and turns, the bad times and the good since that night twenty five or so years ago. I’ve learned so much about myself and other people, about the great love God has for each and every one of us. As we start thinking about Easter and the central facets of the story we can see the power of God’s sacrificial love for us as Jesus hung on the cross to take the blame and the shame of all our wrongdoing
In the story of Jean Valjean, the ex convict given a chance to make something of his life, we see that no matter what we’ve done, where we’ve been there is always a way to freedom from guilt, freedom from our past mistakes. He spent the rest of his life trying to pass on the chance he’d been given. I will never be able to thank God enough for the amazing grace He gave me when I handed him the mess that was my life and asked Him to forgive me.
I am still learning more every day about that grace, more about this God who loves me as I am and whose love I didn’t earn and could not buy. Les Miserables was a marvellous cinematic triumph and worthy of all the plaudits it has received. Jesus sacrifice on the cross was a triumph of good over evil, of eternal life over death, a sacrifice of which we will never be worthy in our own right but always be entitled to because of how much He loves us.
Jesus is the face of Grace. He refused to condemn the woman caught in adultery, brought before Him by a baying mob, asking her”Woman who condemns you?” Recognising their own sinfulness her accusers had all slunk away in shame as Jesus wrote in the sand. “None Sir” she replied in some fear and trepidation ” Neither do I” Jesus said and sent her on her way.
You may not go and see this film or ever read the book. You may choose to ignore the offer of forgiveness, grace and love but you will never know what you’re missing out on. Perhaps you don’t feel the need to get your life sorted out, it may be just fine to you. Or maybe you’re stuck in a desperate situation, or fed up with life patterns repeating themselves stuck on a roundabout you can’t get off. May be you need to hear the comforting words “Neither do I…”
As Victor Hugo said in his masterpiece “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
God Bless YOU