The Gospel of Les Miserables.
I didn't use to cry in movies. Now, if I have the slightest inclination that there may be a tear-inducing scene, I shove napkins in my purse before I even enter the theater. I'm a cryer. I really dramatic, red-faced one, too. It's embarrassing.
So, as I entered the theater yesterday to see Les Miserables, I had napkins in tow. And just as I had expected, it wasn't five minutes into the movie before the tears threatened to fall. Yet they never did. Not because the movie didn't touch, and at times, break my heart, and not because the acting wasn't so superb that I literally felt the emotions and the power of every scene, but because I was moved beyond tears.
The frustration of my life over the past year, has been finally getting to a point where I grasp grace, and having door after door of resistance slammed in my face when I try to pursue that grace. It's a battle, between the liberating force of grace and the brutal shackles of the law.
I felt those shackles fall off of my wrists only months ago, although they've been gone for years I had never stopped feeling their restraint. So once they fell, my heart began to break to see how many people around me still imagine themselves bound. As I watched this movie yesterday there were moments when I wanted to stand up in cheer, moments when I wanted to curl up and weep, moments when I wanted to grab and sword and go to battle, and moments, many moments, when I needed to fall at the foot of the cross.
If you don't know the story and haven't seen the movie yet, I may spoil it all for you so bookmark this and come back after you've watched the movie. I promise that seeing it for yourself is better than having me regurgitate it for you. But, for those who know and have seen, I want to share with you the Gospel of Les Miserables.
First, we have hopelessness and despair. A prisoner set free, having served his time, unshackled yet still bound by a lifelong parole. Not free. Desperation leads to sin, and he again faces a life in chains.
Then comes mercy.
Where he expects to find condemnation he instead finds a fresh start. True freedom, and he is reborn.
Seizing the opportunity he begins to live and walk in grace, extending the mercy that he's been shown to others. But through it all, the law is constantly nipping at his tail. The law, also known as Javert, doesn't get it. He sees the world through a fettered lens that says men don't change and mercy is weakness.
There is a journey here, and in that journey a battle. Through it all our prisoner, Jean Valjean, is constantly finding himself at the foot of the cross. Relying only on God's grace, and never resurrecting that old self, even when doing so would end the battle and provide him with the long awaited victory. Even then, he chooses mercy. In spite of all, grace wins out in the end. The law cannot withstand the weight of mercy, and it folds.
And I am left in my seat with a dry napkin, an irrational desire to rally troops and start a revolution, and a renewed passion for God's grace.
Go see this movie. Say what you will about Hollywood, but this time they nailed it.