The Good News of Les Mis

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The Grace Board
The Grace Board by Eugene and Dee Dee Scott. Photo by Eugene C Scott

A few months ago I saw a thought-provoking work of art called “Before I die I want to.”  It’s an artistic bucket-list.  As it was designed to, it made me rethink what is important to me.  I wound up thinking about who I want to spend time with–not what I want to do–before I die.  I wrote a blog about it you can read by clicking here.  As art and an image conveying an idea, it stuck in my head and heart like a splinter.  I’m glad for that.

But it also made me realize very little of what we accomplish in life provides a real, lasting feeling or knowledge of worth that so many of us long for.  To paraphrase that old folk tune “My Bucket List’s Got a Hole in It.”  We check off item after item after item after item endlessly adding new items hoping that the next one will fulfill.  But still we just don’t feel right or good or worthy.  Like puppets, we live with strings attached, pulling or being pulled by our desire to be loved unconditionally.

“I love you,” we say, hoping for a like response.

“I’ll help,” we offer, dying for someone to recognize how important we are.

“Look at what I did,” we shout like a child on a swing for the first time.

How different could our bucket-lists be if we knew we were loved, important, watched over by a God who does love us unconditionally, who loves us whether we deserve it, earn it, want it, or even love back?

In Victor Hugo’s novel “Les Misérables” Jean Valjean receives this kind of gift, a gift of grace.  Caught stealing the Bishop’s silver and facing, once again, life in a tortuous prison, Jean Valjean is “dejected” and “overwhelmed.”

Then the Bishop gives him a second chance.  “Well, but how is this? I gave you the candlesticks too, which are of silver like the rest, and for which you can certainly get two hundred francs.”

Thus freed Jean Valjean cannot believe, because he has done nothing to deserve this.  Then the Bishop says, “Do not forget, never forget, that you have promised to use this money in becoming an honest man.”

Jean Valjean had made no such promise.  But the truth that Hugo proclaims here is that when we receive unconditional love and grace it changes us.  It frees us.  Cuts the strings.  And we must be different.  We can be different!

Because of the Bishop’s grace, Jean Valjean is able to become a new person, start a new life, live under difficult circumstance, run a factory, adopt an orphan, and inspire heroism.  That’s quite a bucket-list.  What are you able to do because of God’s grace?

Imagine then, who each of us could be and what we each of us could do if we received and believed in God’s grace the way Jean Valjean receives and believes in the Bishop’s.  It would matter not that the bucket’s got a hole because God has an endless supply.  And maybe the hole is part of the point.  We let God’s grace and love and forgiveness and eternity out our holes and into the lives of others while God fills us back up.

Oh, that is how I want to live.

So, inspired by “Before I die,” “Les Misérables,” and mostly by the grace of God I have received, I made “The Grace Board.” We set it up in church and wrote what all of us are now able to do because of the grace of God.

The Grace Board
The Grace Board by Eugene and Dee Dee Scott. Photo by Eugene C Scott

Now it’s your turn.  In the comment section finish the sentence “Because of the grace of God, I am able to . . .”

0 thoughts on “The Good News of Les Mis”

  1. Les Mis is my newest favorite movie. Never saw the play or read the book. Phenomenal. Anyway, to answer your question: pursue His purpose for my life.

  2. Georgie-ann

    “live each new day”,…

    I am amazed that the person I “am” now seems to bear very little resemblance to the “personal” me that I knew as “myself” a long time ago,… for sure, aging is one thing, but that’s not the thing that I find amazing,… my inner thoughts and reactions have not only become more tempered, mellowed, or more informed/broadened in understanding (& I would hope for that, at least!), but it seems that that “me-person” that was trying to run my life, and reacting to so many things in such predictable “personality” ways, has almost been replaced by “another”, who has very little in common with the first one,… I can only attribute this to the slow workings of grace and God’s spiritual transformation process,…

    I can remember times when it seemed that I had an actual “choice of my will” to make, & even quite often,… go with the first reactions, or not go with them and wait for better options to present themselves,… sometimes it was very hard to hold back the “first impulses”, because I really did kind of “believe in” them and that “myself” person,… but as time went on, I kind of noticed (as if out of the corner of my eye), that a lot of times the actions and ideas that emerged/presented themselves AFTER holding back on the first ones, were not only consistently bringing better results, but also made me feel consistently better about myself as a person,… it might still feel a little “ouchy”, as if I were sacrificing some “very important personal” desires or preferences, but as time went on, I could often admit that I was thankful to God for bringing me out beyond my overly personal self,…

    I’m reminded of the Old Testament wisdom:

    Ecclesiastes 1:2 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

    But for the transforming Grace of God, I could still be worried about the “image in the mirror” (a losing battle, for sure!), or a million little picky things,… but I give God thanks for delivering me (such as He has) from myself,… His ways are surely far above mine,… and I would never have been able to lead myself safely into His pastures of Grace, Peace and Love,…

    Psalm 23
    1 “The Lord is my shepherd;
    I shall not want.
    2 “He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
    He leads me beside the still waters.
    3 “He restores my soul;
    He leads me in the paths of righteousness
    For His name’s sake.

    4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil;
    For You are with me;
    Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

    5 “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
    You anoint my head with oil;
    My cup runs over.
    6 “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    All the days of my life;
    And I will dwell in the house of the Lord


    1. G-A: I am so glad that none of are the people we were because of grace. Time plus God’s grace may not equal old age alone.

  3. JPMoyer MD

    Grace, an amazing source of spiritual energy, cannot understand it, but hey it’s there to tap into. And with this grace principle, I can avoid being critical to people, to the grandchildren TODAY Monday when my wife and I watch them after school. They are basically great 9 and 6 year old kiddos, but push a ittle here and there, accept it grandpa, and cut them some slack, but they need guidance and discipline, GRACE, a gentle nudge!

  4. By the grace of God… I must forgive other people and accept them for who they are…because God forgave them and accepts them for who they are..

  5. What a wonderful idea! I am now mentally redoing my new place to figure out where I can fit one of these boards. What a great post to start my Monday!

  6. Because of God’s grace….I can know Him.
    Thanks for this post. I do something similar with “He is my…” It always leaves me with a better attitude when I make these lists!

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