The Gracious Lady of Paris. La Vie en Rose, Part 10


Most of us have heard of Victor Hugo's novel, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (Original title, "Notre Dame de Paris"), and most of the rest of us know that Notre Dame de Paris is a magnificent cathedral located in Paris. In fact, this cathedral is so famous that if you wish to visit it, you have to stand in a long line just to enter! But its beauty, both outside and in, is most definitely worth the wait.

"Notre Dame de Paris" can be directly translated "Our Lady of Paris". Centrally located on the "Isle de la Cité" (Island of the City), the cathedral is shrouded in history. The Isle de la Cité used to be dominated by the Parisi Gauls, and was later occupied by Jules Caesar's Roman soldiers in 52 B.C. Excavations on the Eastern side of the island show that a pagan temple once stood there. This temple was replaced in the 4th century by a large basilica known as "Saint Stephens". Then in the mid twelfth century, under the reign of king Louis VII, the bishop Maurice de Sully decided to build a more grandiose cathedral. According to tradition, it was in 1163 AD that the first stones for Notre Dame de Paris were laid. Major construction continued throughout the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and modifications even occurred during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Then came the French Revolution. Revolutionists did not take kindly to the presence of this gracious lady in their midst, and they destroyed its gallery of kings containing 28 statues, disassembled its 13th century spire, and destroyed most of its portal statues. As a result, Notre Dame de Paris lost its graciousness!

In 1831 however, Victor Hugo's publication of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" resulted in renewed interest to the cathedral. Restorations projects were undertaken, and today the cathedral once again stands in all of its glory.

Reflecting on history, I realize that I have a lot in common with Notre Dame de Paris. I, too, used to be "pagan", completely devoid of life, with my interests far from God. I, too, came to God and accepted Him first as my Saviour. But I did not immediately accept Him as my Master. It took many years, but little by little, my inner cathedral was patiently constructed by my Master Designer.

I have also faced mid-life crisis, where parts of my cathedral were destroyed. But not beyond redemption, for through the influence of the most powerful Author in the Universe, I was brought back to my senses by reading His Book. Under His influence, I gave my life back to my Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.

God sure has been patient with me! I used to be ruined material, but now I have become a temple of the living God ("Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" 1 Cor 3:16 NIV).

I often wonder why I wasted all those years, for truly I am now more alive than ever! I have come to the same conclusion of the apostle Paul: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Rom 8:28 NIV)

If you feel like you are unworthy of the love of the One who died on the cross for you, don't let yourself be deceived. Jesus loves you very much. He will take you out of "the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay" (Ps. 40:1), and transform your ruins into a beautiful cathedral full of purpose. You, too, have the opportunity to make an impact in life, but you will need to trust the One who has never disappointed anyone.

Join me, friends, in being a cathedral that shines the light of the One who loved us. Remember He willingly died for us and rose out of the grave on the third day, so that through Him we could be reunited with Him for eternity! Hallelujah!

Rob Chaffart

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