Mick’s Memo – Love’s Transforming Power
Last week, my daughter and I attended the production of “Les Miserables” at the Landmark Theater in Syracuse. It was extremely well done. I am a fan of that production because of the combination of moving lyrics with brilliant score and the powerful theme of redemption told through the life of Jean Valjean.
At the outset Valjean is a convict released to parole after fulfilling 19 years of hard labor for having stolen a loaf of bread to help his sister’s son who was ill and starving and for his twice repeated attempts at escape. He was hardened and embittered both by his imprisonment and the stigma of his parole that followed him wherever he went. His story dramatically changes when a Bishop treats him kindly and then covers for him after he had stolen silver from the Bishop’s church. He had been caught and was undoubtedly on his way back to prison without the intervention. The kindness and love of the Bishop shocked Valjean. It was almost incomprehensible to him that someone would spare him the punishment he deserved. The only return the Bishop asked was for Valjean to see this as a gift from God calling him to a “higher plan”. The remainder of the story is watching as Valjean pursues this higher plan; a radically changed man.
When I reflect on my own life, I find it has been most positively changed by love. Many people have had influential roles, but their competence, knowledge or positional power have been far less consequential than their willingness and motivation to care about me and call me to a “higher plan” often at cost to themselves. They have been family, friends, teachers, coaches, teammates, classmates, neighbors, shipmates, pastors, and coworkers. They have lovingly advised, lent a hand, confronted, comforted, encouraged and just listened. Some have been followers of Jesus, some not, but God has brought His presence through their love in either case.
“Les Miserables” is a very depressing title and many of the scenes portray darkness, evil and suffering. It portrays the true nature of human history, tainted by human selfishness and systematic injustice. But the light of love penetrates the darkness. Jesus calls followers to “let your light shine” reflecting God’s goodness into the darkness. That’s our challenge and our opportunity. The love we have received can ignite that light in us and pass it through us.
Speaking of shining the light—have you invited anyone to “The Replacement” next weekend? Our talented musicians, actors/actresses, and production team are busy preparing to portray the greatest act of love.
This weekend we will conclude “What is God Really Like?” considering the concept of God as “The Advocate”.
I look forward to seeing you!