I rarely go to see movies in the theater—and almost never see the same movie twice on the big screen. But I did with Les Misérables.
Many of my friends have loved this musical for years, whereas it’s only been this fall that it's captured my heart--a combination of plugging through the book, seeing our little theater company’s young adult division prepare a Les Mis medley for our upcoming show, and finally, seeing the movie.
The story does portray some of the darker sides of life rather unflinchingly, and I’d recommend parental caution in showing it to teens. But the powerful way it shows the Light shining in and brighter than the darkness touched and lifted my heart each time. Darkness is real—it was in 19th century France, and it is still today. But so is the Light—God’s light. And His light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Then this week, wading through the soggy misery of a bad cold, the movie Prince Caspian helped distract me from my nose and throat a couple of evenings. As I watched the Narnians take their stand against the so-much-stronger Telmarines with their troops upon troops, I got the same feeling as with the revolution in Les Miserables. Brave as they might be, they were so much smaller and weaker—how could they win?
But there was a difference, for the Narnians vs. the student revolutionaries. His name is Aslan.
Not because of the Narnians’ own goodness or bravery or cleverness or strength, but because of Aslan, the tide turns and they win. It made me think of, “God plus one is a majority”—or perhaps better worded, “one plus God”—since He is the part of the equation that matters.
As a family, we’ve been watching a DVD series given to us for Christmas, “Jesus Journey: 40 Days in the Footsteps of Christ.” Last Sunday the lesson walked us through Luke 5 and Jesus’ calling of His first disciples. The pastor dwelt on how unconventionally Jesus chose people to hang out with. Fishermen, one of the more despised occupations in first century Israel and generally those already rejected from studying under a rabbi. Tax collectors and “sinners.” People who struggled with doubt and egotism. Women as diverse as Mary Magdalene—delivered from seven demons—and Joanna, wife of Herod’s steward.
Such a rag-tag little bunch to be the ambassadors of God’s kingdom on earth. Kind of like the motley groups of French students or Narnians. Kind of like us.
Sometimes the darkness seems so strong in this world, the odds so great as we seek to follow Jesus and help spread His kingdom. Evil, as we see news of shootings and terrorism, can seem staggering sometimes—and so can our own sinfulness and inadequacy. At least to me.
But Aslan is on the move. Jesus is on the move. And as David could tell us after defeating Goliath, as the Israelites could share after the miracle at the Red Sea, as Mary and Joseph knew as they cradled a Baby in a cave beneath the shadow of Herod’s Herodium, God delights in perfecting His strength in our weakness.
Because of Him, as Les Mis puts it, “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”