Kneeling before the priest, the accuser standing there with the damning evidence thrown on the ground, guilt overwhelms the soul.
What lies ahead for the condemned…back to the work camp…back to the hard labor and the cruel task master…back to prison.
But wait, what does the soul find? Not harsh justice nor deserved punishment but mercy, freedom, and grace. The priest steps in-between the prisoner and the accuser and sets the damned free. No more chains. No more guilt. No more shame. Grace. Infinite. Matchless. Amazing. Freeing. Life-changing grace.
A soul bought for God.
Come in, Sir, for you are weary
And the night is cold out there.
Though our lives are very humble
What we have, we have to share.
There is wine here to revive you.
There is bread to make you strong.
There’s a bed to rest ’til morning.
Rest from pain, and rest from wrong.
He let me eat my fill.
I had the lion’s share.
This silver in my hand
Costs twice what I had earned
In all those nineteen years-
That lifetime of despair
And yet he trusted me-
The old fool trusted me-
He’d done his bit of good
I played the grateful serf
And thanked him like I should.
But when the house was still,
I got up in the night
Took the silver,
Took my flight!
Tell his reverence your story.
Let us see if he’s impressed.
You were lodging here last night.
You were the honest Bishop’s guest.
And than out of Christian goodness.
When he learned about your plight
You maintains he made a present of this
That is right.
But my friend you left so early
Surly something slipped your mind.
You forgot I gave these also.
Would you leave the best behind?
So, Messieurs, you may release him
For this man has spoken true.
I commend you for your duty
And God’s blessing go with you.
(to VALJEAN)But remember this, my brother
See in this some higher plan.
You must use this precious silver
To become an honest man.
By the witness of the martyrs
By the Passion and the Blood
God has raised you out of darkness
I have bought your soul for God!
So here I am, on the second day of a new year, 2013, and truly, I feel like Valjean. I kneel, head hanging and shoulders slumped knowing my guilt and feeling the weight of my selfishness and ego-centric life. And the Priest lifts my head, reminding me of the riches I’ve been given–freely given. I’m free. I don’t have to live in a prison of shame or guilt or sin or self. The Priest gives me The Ultimate gift; I cannot earn it.
And yet I still struggle. I blink in disbelief and shake my head thinking it can’t be meant for me. Then, I read Isaiah 51 “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, Who seek the Lord…indeed the Lord will comfort…He will bring joy and gladness… thanksgiving and the sound of a melody” and I’m reminded that God doesn’t ask me for perfection when I come to Him, kneeling and broken. The verse doesn’t say “listen to me, you who have it all together and are good”. It’s written for those who seek…those who pursue…not those who are perfect.
And still, I hear the accuser whisper “God will not deliver her.” and I answer, feeble yet clinging to hope:
A soul bought for God.