Perhaps the most amazing response to God’s gift is our reluctance to accept it. We feel better if we earn it. So we create religious hoops and hop through them—making God a trainer, us his pets, and religion a circus. If only, when God smiles and says we’re saved, we’d salute him, thank him, and live like those who’ve received a gift from the commander in chief.
We seldom do that, though. To accept grace is to admit failure. We opt to impress God with how good we are rather than confessing how great he is. We dizzy ourselves with doctrine, burden ourselves with rules, think that God will smile on our efforts. He doesn’t. God’s smile is not for the healthy hiker who boasts that he made the journey alone. It is, instead, for the crippled beggar who begs God for a back on which to ride.