Back around September/October, my brother told me that “they” were making a movie of Les Miserables. I could hardly contain my excitement. I immediately went to the website he directed me to and watched a four minute trailer over and over and over again. Christmas seemed too far away. The Friday after Christmas, some friends and I went to see the movie. It was
as good as better than I imagined! I can think of at least 3 or 4 places in the movie where I wished I was at home so I could bawl like a little baby. The storyline…the music…it was so emotional.
I think the emotion came partially from the fact that the actors were live singing…something that is not typically done in movie musicals. Normally, what happens is the actors record the songs in a studio. Months later, they lip synch while filming. Their acting is not determined while filming…it was determined months ago, while they were in a small studio.
Les Mis takes it a bit further. Each actor had a small ear piece. Off stage, was a piano playing their music and they sang while acting…while filming. Then, later in editing, a large orchestra was dubbed over the piano, giving movie goers a truly unique experience.
I loved it! I’m looking for any little excuse to go see it again. I already told my hubby when the soundtrack and DVD come out…well, I really really really want them. *Sigh* It was amazing.
If you are not familiar with the storyline, it is ultimately a classic battle between law and grace…something we see played out over history time and time again. Jean Valjean…a hardened criminal. A probation violator…a thief, an impostor. What you might consider all around bad guy. While stealing from a priest (can you imagine!) receives something he never got in prison. Grace. No condemnation. No retribution. After stealing the only valuable possessions the priest had, not only does the priest not ask for him to be imprisoned, but gives Valjean even more…the best…the candlesticks. This is foreign to Valjean. He spends a whole scene just trying to comprehend this new concept. What does he do with this? He decides then and there to change his ways. To show love, compassion and grace to others…the way it was shown to him.
Enter Javert. The law. He has made it his lifelong career goal to track down and arrest Valjean. At one point, he has Valjean right where he wants him…only to let him slip through his fingers. Time after time, Javert is one step behind his arch nemesis. In one pivotal scene, Valjean has the opportunity (and some might consider right) to kill Javert. Instead, he allows him to leave, knowing full well Javert will come back and try to arrest him. Many times in the movie, Javert is shown standing on the edge of rooftops, pacing back and forth, trying to figure Valjean out. The vision of him walking the fine line from edge to nothingness is very significant. He is walking the line between law and grace. Judgement and forgiveness.
Grace is an amazing and confusing concept. We are the recipients of God’s grace, and yet, we are so undeserving. Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, died innocent…yet, if he had not done so, we would be eternally lost. How can we, as humans, wrap our minds around that??
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is, not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10.
Nothing we have done, can do or will do in the future can “earn” us the grace that God freely gives to us. We are so much like Javert…we can’t comprehend why we are given grace when we deserve justice. What do we do with such a gift? The last part of the scripture says we were created in Jesus to do good works, which God has already prepared for us to do. This is our purpose. Earlier, it says that we can’t save ourselves through works. This almost seems contradictory. We are saved by grace…not by works…but we were created to do works. What? How does this work? My husband explains it wonderfully. He describes our life as a “thank you note” to God. We are not trying to “earn” the gift of grace by doing things…you can’t earn a gift…but by serving and following God’s will, we are in a way, saying “thank you” for this wonderful, amazing gift.
When Valjean was shown grace by the priest on that life changing night, he decided to change his life. From then on, everything he did was to show others love, mercy and grace. Because he changed his life, his actions…his works…were also changing the lives of others.
What will you do with your gift? Will you hold onto it tightly, or will you share it with others? When will you start writing your own “Thank You” note to God?