This past Thursday night I went to see the touring production of Les Miserables in Birmingham. I love this musical and try to see it any time I get a chance. The music is wonderful, the sets are spectacular, but more than anything, I love it's a story of grace, redemption, and the importance of standing up for something bigger than yourself. What a contrast it draws between living in the light of God's grace and following the letter of the law without any concept of God's love and forgiveness.
Every time I see it, I get something new out of it. This time, it was a theme that has always been there but had never grabbed me before. When I mentioned to my nephew, he was like, "Really? That was new?" Well, not really new, but it was never at the forefront like it was this time.
You see, after the forgiveness of a kind priest had turned the life of Jean Valjean around, he eventually had the opportunity to show the same to a young woman who had been abandoned and left with a small child. When he failed to protect her from an evil boss, he eventually promised her - on her deathbed - to take care of her child. Her orphan.
It's amazing how life experiences influence what you see. I had never before focused on the fact that the ultimate expression of his faith was taking care of this defenseless young girl and raising her as his own. But in the light of what God has been showing me through my trips to Africa and the people I've worked alongside, it just jumped off the stage at me. The main way we know that Valjean has God's love in him is the way he loves this adopted child.
And so it is. True faith leads us to love others more than ourselves. To take care of those who can't care for themselves. And to obey his command to care for widows, orphans, and the oppressed.
At the end, Valjean is taken to heaven and receives his reward. While it isn't in the play, I can just hear Jesus saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant." What a legacy those who follow his example will leave, and what a reward they will receive.
Les Miserables. A wholly secular vehicle that God has used to teach me and others wonderful life lessons about grace. May it run for another 25 years.