Another blessing in spending time with family and friends over the course of the past month is hearing the ways God is working in your lives. I'm delighted to share this guest post written by my brother Carl, a man who seeks after God's own heart:
One of the most significant contributors to my view of God is Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Ever since my first encounter with the book, its potent themes have haunted me continuously. I’ve never read anything else that portrays so piercingly what God’s love looks like when experienced, then faithfully expressed by a human being.
My favorite passage in all of literature takes place near the beginning of the book, when the fugitive Jean Valjean is welcomed into the bishop’s home, no questions asked, but treated as a brother and an honored guest. Then, responding to the bishop’s warm hospitality by stealing his silver in the night, Valjean is apprehended by the police and summarily returned to the bishop’s home to face recrimination and certain return to prison.
Then, in the most shocking, impossibly wonderful scene, the bishop declares to the police that the silver was a gift and he incredibly underscores the assertion by adding silver candlesticks to the “gift,” implying that Valjean had simply forgotten to take them with the rest. The remainder of the book then portrays Valjean’s thoroughgoing repentance and its fruits in the lives of others.
Of course Hugo’s work is fiction, but I find more truth here than in almost any factual account I’ve ever seen. I grew up viewing God as essentially angry and in need of placation, thus my need to repent to produce that effect. Hugo has helped me immensely in knowing that it’s the goodness of God that produces repentance, not the judgment of God (as Javert would have it).
God’s movements of love, as mirrored also by the Prodigal Son’s father, not only precede repentance but are even performed in the face of absurd odds that they will ever bear fruit.
In this emerging realization, I’m growing in gratefulness to and amazement of God. That holy magic of God’s love is intoxicating me.
Don't you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant and patient God is with you?
Does this mean nothing to you?
Can't you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
Romans 2:4 (NLT)