January 13, 2013

"Who am I?" and musings from Les Miserables

Les Miserables, the story itself, has been in the forefront of my thoughts the past few days....I was excited to see it. The music was incredible. Each individual song was a performance in itself. It was brilliant. Very inspiring, compelling and passionate. So there ya have it. My review-in a nutshell. But one thing in particular stood out to me. Jean Valjean had been freed from serving his 19 year sentence for stealing bread. Javert referred to him not by his name but as " prisoner 24601" time and again. He'd been told that he would wear a badge of shame till the day he died. All he'd ever BE is "24601". A convict. A man on the run from his one mistake. Later in the movie, after he'd been set free, he was being tormented by his past. He knew He now belonged to God but his past was still haunting him. Who was it that defined him? 24601 or the man he could BE? Was it hate that would rule his heart or love and forgiveness? Grace and Mercy? Could he ever be at rest or would his past always chase him down and be the chain that he will NEVER be free from? 4 times in the story Jean Valjean has an opportunity to extend grace and love another person. One is to a woman who by society's standards doesn't deserve it. Another is to a little girl who he takes on as his own and the third is to the very person who has committed his OWN life to hunting him down and destroying him. (The one who condemned him to shame for the rest of his life.) The 4th is to save Marius's life during battle. Presented to him is 4 different opportunities to extend grace, to show love selflessly. He suddenly realized in the moment he was holding the little girl Cossette in his lap that there was a peace in his heart. There was light in the world that he hadn't seen before. When he began spending his life on another person. But the most beautiful moment in MY opinion was just after Jean Valjean had an opportunity to take Javert's life and he didn't. He let him go. Javert said, "Once a thief always a thief." Jean Valjean said, "You are wrong, and always have been wrong.I'm a man, no worse than any man. You are free, and there are no conditions, No bargains or petitions. There's nothing that I blame you for" .....there's nothing you OWE me. I hold nothing against you. I wish you no harm. Be free. In setting Javert free....he freed himself. Free from the chains that held him for so long. Free from 24601. His shame and regret and mistakes no longer defined him. Javert spent his life condemning people and in the end killed himself because he couldn't find rest from the torment of his soul and the torment of bitterness and unforgiveness and hate. But when Jean Valjean set Javert free (when he could have taken his life) he let go of all it. He was really setting HIMSELF free. Because NOW he was free to love, free to give and extend grace to whomever. Even his enemies. "Who am I?" those words echo in me even today. Will you let others define who you ARE. Your past? The limitations of your flesh? The restraints others have placed on you? Or will you be free to walk in the Truth of who God created you to be? To be the hands and feet of God and extend Grace and kindness and love and mercy to whomever you may meet.In your giving you will find freedom and peace.

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

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