A story about grace. The story of Jean Valjean

jean valjeanMy first attempt to read a novel was, I guess, at eleven. I haven’t read much in childhood unfortunately. I seriously started to read only after I’ve met God. God filled me spiritually and only then I realized how empty I was intellectually.

So, the first attempt was Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I don’t think I finished it. I did tried to read it several times and nearly always my mum woke me up. I didn’t understood much because of that. No wonder…

The names were interesting though. Jean Valjean, Cosette, Javert etc. French. And Romania likes French stuff. Travel to Bucharest and you’ll see Little Paris. We copy paste Paris without a licence. They tought it will be a good ideea to copy paste the language and culture. I was taught French from my 2nd grade till I finished high school. Maybe that’s why I started to hate it. Nothing personal or national. I assume it was just my old teacher. Her style was slightly communist. But enough about my petite histoire francais

Talking about Les Miserables, I realized that it’s a sad and beautiful story, but also a story about God’s grace. Max Lucado brilliantly points this out in his book, Grace.

JeanValjeanValjean enters the pages as a vagabond. A just-released prisoner in midlife, wearing threadbare trousers and a tattered jacket. Nineteen years in a French prison have left him rough and fearless. He’s walked for four days in the Alpine chill of nineteenth-century southeastern France, just to find out that no inn will take him, no tavern will feed him. Finally he knocks on the door of a bishop’s house.

Monseigneur Myrel is seventy-five years old. Like Valjean he has lost much. The revolution took all the valuables from his family except some silverware, a soup ladle, and two candlesticks. Valjean tells his story and expects the religious man to turn him away. Butthe bishop is kind. He asks the visitor to sit near a fire. „You did not need to tell me who you are,” he explains. „This is not my house- it is the house of Jesus Christ.” After some time the bishop takes the ex-convict to the table, where they dine on soup and bread, figs, and cheese with wine, using the bishop’s fine silverware.

He shows Valjean to a bedroom. In spite of the comfort, the ex-prisoner can’t sleep. In spite of the kindness of the bishop, he can’t resist the temptation. He stuffs the silverware into his knapsack. The priest sleeps through the robbery, and Valjean runs into the night.

But he doesn’t get far. The policeman catch him and march him back to the bishop’s house. Valjean knows what his capture means-prison for the rest of his life. But then something wonderful happens. Before the officer can explain the crime, the bishop steps forward.

„Oh! Here you are! I’m glad to see you. I can’t believe you forgot the candlesticks! They are made of pure silver as well… Please take them with the forks and spoons I gave you.”

Valjean is stunned. The bishop dismisses the policeman and then turn and says, „Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. I have bought your soul from you. I take it back from evil thoughts and deeds and the Spirit of Hell, and I give it to God.”

Valjean has a choice: believe the priest or believe his past. Jean Valjean believes the priest. He becomes mayor of a small town. He builds a factory and gives jobs to the poor. He takes pity on a dying mother and raises her daughter.

Grace chanced him. Let it change you

    Max Lucado, Grace, Thomas Nelson pag.23-25


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