Paperwork.  Applications.  Fees.  Months of waiting.  More paperwork.  More fees.  More waiting.  Medical exams.  Immunizations.  X-rays.  More money.  Long drives.  Interviews.  More money.

After two years of waiting, our family is finally coming to the final stages of the immigration process.  Upon hearing that one of my kids had to have five injections at one time as part of his application, I thought to myself, “Man, if we ever get to America, that Captain Sundae is going to taste so much sweeter because of all that we’ve had to do to get there!”

But as soon as the thought crossed my mind, another one lapped it – the thought that a sweeter-tasting Captain Sundae reeks of works-based theology.

Think about it – I was basically reasoning that because of all that we have done, the outcome is going to feel richer, more gratifying, more rewarding.

Biblical?  I think not.

Even my own experience confirms the fallacy – for He has given me numerous trips to Captain Sundae in my hometown as a result of the generosity of others – at no cost to myself.  Through the grace and sacrifice of others on my behalf, I had opportunities to cross the Atlantic to visit my family more times than I ever thought possible.

Were those visits not sweet?

They were more precious than words can describe. 

So how can I still venture to reason that hard work is going to make me more grateful to be there if and when we finally arrive?

No, I was wrong.

Nothing compares to grace.

It’s the same with salvation – are we grateful for the hope of heaven because we’ve had to go through so much hardship in this life?  Or do we cherish the sweetness of the Lord’s presence because we know we did absolutely nothing to deserve it?

How have you been tempted to neglect the grace of God and think that your own accomplishments made the resulting rewards seem even sweeter?