Monthly Archives: February 2013

Thoughts on Les Miserables

Les Mis and Lincoln are vying for Oscars this year, and although I loved Lincoln, I’ll be rooting for Les Mis.

Les Mis is one of those rare movies that combine great acting with a great story. True, the movie is hard to watch, especially at the beginning. Set before and during the early years of the French Revolution, the first scenes are full of cruelty, poverty, sadness, and darkness. They are just plain hard to watch.

Thankfully, the first bit of hope comes not too far into the story when a priest gives Jean Valjean mercy. Instead of turning him in for stealing, the priest gives him the stolen items. Stunned, Valjean accepts that mercy and vows to become a man worthy of the gift.

Because of this new life path, Valjean dispenses grace and mercy, saving several lives throughout the movie. His life and the lives of others are changed forever because of mercy.

Unfortunately, Jean Valjean’s enemy, Javert, stalks him throughout his life. When Valjean offers Javert mercy, he’s as stunned as Valjean was when mercy was gifted to him. He can’t accept it, and we see the consequences of refusing grace and mercy.

I saw Les Mis for the first time on Broadway several years ago. I thought it was a great experience, but, having toured New York all day, I must have been in some site-seeing induced unconsciousness. I couldn’t remember the plot, only a few of the songs and a couple of the scenes.

This time, however, the story has reverberated in my mind for the past two months.  For me it isn’t a story of the early years of the French Revolution or even a story of good prevailing over evil—even though both descriptions are true. To me, it’s a clear study of what happens when we give grace and mercy, what happens when we accept it, and what happens when we refuse it.

Les Mis is a big movie with big performances and beautiful songs, but the most important part for me is the big lesson in giving and accepting mercy. I hope everyone who sees this movie can learn that lesson.

A Valentine for You

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A few Februaries ago, a friend of mine gave me the following Valentine. I’m sharing it today.

Your Divine Valentine
by Holley Gerth

A valentine may play a love song for you, but God sings you the sweetest love song.
Zephaniah 3:17—…”He will rejoice over you with singing.”

A valentine may give you flowers, but God sent you the most beautiful rose of all.
Song of Solomon 2:1—“I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valley.”

A valentine may take you out to dinner, but God has invited you to the most amazing feast ever given.
Revelation 19:9—“…blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”

A valentine may bring you chocolate, but God provides you with something even sweeter, His Word.
Psalm 119:103—“How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”

A valentine may be far away, but God is always with you.
Matthew 28:20—“…and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

A valentine may give you something, but God has given you everything.
I Timothy 6:17—“…God…richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”

A valentine may love you for a lifetime, but God loved you before you were born and will love you for all eternity.
Jeremiah 31:3—“I have loved you with an everlasting love: I have drawn you with loving kindness.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Waiting

I’m studying Genesis and Abraham this year. For me, one of the important lessons has been the example of waiting. Do you remember how many years Abraham and Sarah waited for Isaac? Twenty-five. Yes, twenty-five years passed before God’s promise of a descendant was fulfilled through Isaac.

That’s a lot of waiting, but Abraham was a man of faith who trusted the One who fulfills promises.

We’re waiting at our house. Our sons have applied to the United States Naval Academy and to the United States Military Academy. It’s been a year-long process of actually applying, but the boys have been working for years on becoming the kind of people the Academies accept through Boy Scouts, sports, academics, as well as church and community involvement.

This journey has been arduous and frustrating, but it has also been filled with dozens of kind people who’ve helped them. I’ve lost count of how many people wrote letters of recommendation. A coach met them at 7am on a summer Friday before his vacation to monitor their physical test. They needed physics, but not enough students at our small high school wanted to take it. Our school didn’t offer it, but a neighboring school did. Our principal, the other principal, the teacher, and the county superintendent had to sign off to allow Lane and Quinn and another student to leave school in the middle of the day, drive ten miles while eating lunch, and take the class on another campus. Several doctors have written letters and signed documents to dispel medical issues.

In the past, whenever anyone asked me about their future plans, I’d cock my head, dip my chin, and say, “Well, their hearts’ desire is to go to West Point or the Naval Academy.” Maybe I was trying to let them know that I know how competitive the application process is. Maybe I didn’t want to show excitement because if they didn’t get accepted, I didn’t want people feeling sorry for us. Who knows?
I‘ve decided, however, I’m not going to do that anymore. I’m happy that they have a lofty goal and that they’re being seriously considered.

If I believe the promise in Jeremiah 29:11 that God has plans for them, for a hope and a future, then I can rest in whatever path is waiting for them. Believing it is one thing, and that’s for my contentment. Showing I believe it is another, and that’s a witness to everybody else.

So—I’ve changed how I wait. From now on, I’m waiting in joyful expectation of whatever God has planned for Lane and Quinn because whatever He has planned is good. ANd that’s a promise.