Between the supermarket discount and the coupon my husband received for volunteering at the hospital, our Thanksgiving turkey cost us very little. Thinking about this, I recalled a favorite memory from childhood—the year my father gave away a free turkey. Not a frozen one. Not a fresh one. A live one!
A few days before Thanksgiving, he purchased a turkey and placed it in the large display window of his grocery store. (To those of you who might be concerned about safety, the turkey could move a bit in the window space but could not roam around the store.) He provided water for it to drink and corn for it to eat. By carefully counting the number of corn kernels he placed in its food container each day, my father knew exactly how many of them this turkey ate.
He promised to give that turkey to the person whose guess came closest to the number of corn kernels it ate. Before long, children and adults in our little village crowded around the window with much laughter and lively competition. Children pressed their nose against the cold glass and tried to count the number of corn kernels the turkey ate. Adults bet with one another and tried to mathematically figure out how much it would eat. Though it was free, the family who received that turkey for dinner needed to do some work before placing it on the dinner table.
Although of infinite more value than a turkey, like my father’s turkey give-away, God’s gifts of grace are free. Like the work needed to prepare that turkey for dinner, receiving the benefits of God’s grace requires some effort on our part. It’s not that he is watching us and keeping track of our good deeds, counting them like my father counted corn kernels.
We don’t earn God’s grace by our good deeds. The effort God requires of us is to ask. If we pride ourselves in being self-sufficient, asking will be difficult for us. However, if we do not ask or we easily give up, we will not receive.
Jesus said, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. As we pray, let us be like little children, persistently “pressing our noses on the window of heaven” and expectantly waiting in hopeful assurance that God will answer our prayers. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.