Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Two silver candlesticks (redemptive endings)

At the beginning of the legendary musical, Les Miserables, Jean Valjean had just been released from prison after 19 years.  he came to a new town where he was forced to show his prison release papers.  The mayor and townspeople, as well as the local jail and other businesses refuse to help him or give him anything to eat.  The only one that will feed him is Mr. Myriel, the local Bishop.  He not only feeds Valjean, he invites him to spend the night.  Valjean returns the favor by stealing Bishop Myriel’s only “fineries” – silver utensils – and leaving in the middle of the night.
Valjean is caught by the police and brought back to face Myriel.  When the bishop sees him, he claims he gave Valjean the silverware as a gift.  Myriel adds, “You forgot to take the silver candlesticks that go with the silverware.
After the police leave, the bishop offers him forgiveness and tells him to live an honest life.  The rest of the musical is about Valjean’s attempt to do so.
We all love stories with a redemptive ending.  Why?  There is something in each of us that cries out for a redemptive ending to our broken lives.  The Bible is full of these redemptive stories, for instance:
  • Joseph – Gen. 50:20 “You meant to hurt me, but God turned your evil into good to save the lives of many people.”
  • Moses – Acts 7:20-36 God brought Moses full circle to face his failure so he could learn to trust God to fulfill his destiny.
  • Woman caught in adultery – Jn. 8:1-11 She was rescued from a death sentence.
  • Prodigal son – Lk. 15:11-32 Welcomed home & forgiven by a loving father… even after committing the worst act of betrayal.
Now notice Heb. 4:16…
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Some people have endured unimaginable pain and horrors – betrayal, neglect & abuse – sometimes even at the hands of those they should have been able to trust.  God offers you grace to help you let it go.  Forgiving others will bring you freedom!  And, like Joseph, God can turn these horrible things into something beautiful, if we’ll let Him.
Others have been the ones causing the pain.  You need to come to the Father and, like the Prodigal Son, find mercy.  You will need to make things right, but you will find freedom and forgiveness.

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