Holley Gerth, author of You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream wants us to share what gives us joy.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons Flickr user Moyan Brenn
Recently, I experienced joy when my husband and I watched the movie musical Les Misérable. It was a rare treat as we sank into the theater’s plush seats.
Joy showed up as I worshipped God because of Jean Valjean’s transformation when he received God’s love.
After serving a 20 year sentence for stealing bread, a bitter Valjean (Hugh Jackman) gets out of prison. He can’t find work or a place to stay because he must show papers marking him as an ex-convict.
Finally, a kind Bishop (Colm Wilkinson) treats Valjean with kindness by inviting him to dinner, and giving him a place to sleep. The Bishop sees Valjean as a person made in God’s image, and not as a convict to be avoided.
Valjean repays the bishop by stealing all the valuables he can stuff into a bag then runs away. The local police catch Valjean and haul him back to the Bishop.
Instead of exposing Valjean’s crime, as expected, the Bishop also gives Valjean two large silver candlesticks. I am hushed although I know the story.
I confess every time I watch this scene, I am troubled. Why? Because I don’t know if I would have acted like the Christ-like Bishop.
Valjean is too shocked to say anything as the Bishop tells him: he has bought Valjean’s soul for God. What a beautiful mini-portrait of what Jesus does for each one of us: undeserving sinners.
Whenever I allow the Holy Spirit to shine His light on my soul, I recognize how my soul is more convict than convent. How much I need Jesus to forgive, cleanse, and transform me- daily.
What joy is mine when I allow Him to cleanse and change me.
The rest of the movie is about Valjean’s metamorphosis from hardened convict to compassionate man with Christ-like character. Valjean does what is right even when it hurts and costs him, dearly.
Valjean’s change hinged on the Bishop’s gracious generosity, and on Valjean’s acceptance of the bishop’s gift of silver and trust. Unlike Javert, Valjean was not too proud to receive grace and mercy.
Likewise, are we humble enough to admit our need, and receive God’s help, which is freely given? Oh, what joy we often forfeit, because we will not receive what we need from God’s generous hand.
Whenever I see God’s love change a person’s life, I feel joy. My joy is a drop compared to the ocean-full joy God feels. He is the father anxiously looking at a distant horizon for the return of the prodigal.
And who isn’t a prodigal? Who among us has not told God to go away, and leave us alone (in word or deed)?
Some of us, myself included, are like the older brother; we are the prodigals who never left home. We are like Javert in Les Misérable; we fail to enjoy relationship with God because we are too focused on keeping rules.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t care about God’s commands. Only when one loses sight of God’s heart behind His commands, then one can lose sight of God.
By God’s grace, I didn’t cling to my self-righteousness. Unlike Javert, I threw myself at Jesus’ feet and sought His mercy. Like Valjean, I am slowly learning to allow God’s love to change me from the inside-out.
And real joy is always about less of me, and more of Jesus in my heart.
If you haven’t seen the movie Les Misérable, I highly recommend it.
Do you ever feel marked by past deeds (either committed, and/or done to you)?
What helps you to find joy and allow God to mark your life with His love like Valjean?
It always gives me joy to read about your journey with God. Thank you.
Linking with Holley Gerth and other dreamers at
Also linking today with sweet and gifted friend Laura Boggess,
Encouraging and talented friend Jennifer Dukes Lee (love that we share the same last name),
and the amazing Jen