I heard Governor Huckabee tell the following story at the Republican National Convention in 2008:
On the first day of school in a small town in Arkansas, a teacher removed all the students’ desks from her classroom. When the first-hour students came in, they asked where their desks were. She said, “You can have a desk when you tell me how you can earn a desk.”
One student asked, “Do we earn a desk by making good grades?”
The teacher said, “Well, you’re expected to make good grades, but that won’t earn you a desk.”
Another student asked, “Do we earn a desk if we behave?”
She said, “There’s no question that you will behave in my class, but that won’t earn you a desk either.”
None of the students could tell her how they could earn a desk. As the students left her classroom, hour after hour, the buzz spread throughout the school that she wouldn’t let her students have desks. By noon, all of the local TV stations had sent reporters to the school to cover the unusual story. By the last hour of the day, even parents were arriving, wondering what was going on.
Finally, the teacher told the last-hour students, “You’ve all been wondering where your desks are.” Motioning toward the door, she said, “Well, here they are.”
One-by-one, men and women quietly entered the classroom, each carrying a desk. Every one of them was a member of the military, or a veteran; some were veterans of foreign wars, even dressed in their military uniforms. As they delivered the desks, they carefully arranged them for the students, who still didn’t understand.
The teacher said, “Kids, all day I’ve been asking you to tell me what you have to do to earn a desk. The correct answer is that you don’t have to do anything to earn your desks, because these men and women have already earned them for you. Because of them, you have the freedom to sit in these desks and learn as much as you’re willing to learn. For you, these desks are free, but not because they come without a cost. These men and women have already paid for them.”
When I heard this story, I couldn’t help but recall the hymn, “Jesus Paid It All,” where Mrs. H. M. Hall wrote, “For nothing good have I whereby Thy grace to claim–I’ll wash my garments white in the blood of Calvary’s Lamb.”
“You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.” 1 Corinthians 7:23