Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? 24601!
This is the famous exclamation at the climax of a conflict of conscience in the musical Les Miserables
During this second conflict of conscience, Jean Valjean struggles with surrendering to the authorities that he has successfully eluded for years because they have a man in custody that they believe to be him. So, does he let this man take his place and give him freedom or does he turn himself in and save this innocent man from suffering?
Previously, we see a bitter and angry Jean Valjean, faced with a decision resulting from compassion of the Bishop who had the power to see him back in chains for stealing silver. The Bishop told the authorities the silver was a gift and gave him two huge candlesticks as well and tells Valjean that this silver is the price of his soul. Shocked by this show of love and compassion Valjean becomes a new man and walks a righteous path forging a new life as a businessman and even Mayor of a small town.
This is not unlike the epiphany that Simon Peter had the day he met Jesus. (Luke 5: 1-8) There in the familiar surroundings of his boat on the lake he fished so many times before, Peters eyes were opened to the fact that he was a sinful man. Face to face with Jesus Peter’s soul is bare for all to see. The contrast between Jesus’ holy person and Peters humanity brought his sin out of darkness and into the light. What could he do?
Like Peter and Jean Valjean we will all come to that place in our lives where we are face to face with our humanity, our hearts, our sin. God will be sure of it. The Holy Spirit brings us all to this place the only difference is where we go from here. In both examples above the choice was to fall down in humility and shame. In each case these men chose to turn away from sin and pursue a righteous life.
But, that is not the only choice. When faced with the dilemmas of life we have the free will do whatever we may choose. This is the very choice that God has given to each of us and is the very reason we are different from the animal kingdom. We do not act on instinct but rather are driven by choice.
This is why the Word of God so often reminds us that we are free to make our own choices –
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: Deu 30:19 KJV
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15 KJV