There once was a great man who was a ship-builder. One day he decided to build the best luxury ship in the world, but with a capacity for 1000 people who would be under his authority while they cruised.
The ship was launched and sailed for many months until one day the people on board thought they could make it into a better ship. So they started pulling pieces apart and rearranging things but, while doing so, they didn’t realize they were causing structural damage. Suddenly, while in the middle of shark-infested waters ten miles from the nearest land, the ship sank so rapidly that no one was able to get into life-boats and all 1000 people were left swimming.
The ship-builder had been sailing nearby in a fast, huge ship, and he was quickly on the scene throwing out life preservers to everyone in the water. Many people quickly grabbed the life preservers and were pulled in. Many more, however, thought they could get safely to land on their own and kept swimming, heedless of the sharks around them and the distance to go.
The shipbuilder offered every one of those people the chance to be saved by merely grabbing the life preserver, yet many rejected the offer because of their pride, and those who didn’t accept the offer drowned or were eaten by the sharks.
Then the reporters questioned the shipbuilder: Didn’t he know that not everyone would want to accept his offer? Of course he did, but he gave them the choice anyway, because he was merciful. It wasn’t his fault if they rejected his offer of the life preserver, and he certainly wasn’t going to force them to accept what they didn’t want. But, the reporters asked, didn’t that take away from the shipbuilder’s authority over those people? No, the shipbuilder said, because he could have sent his helicopter crews to force them to be saved, but he thought it best to let them make their own choices. Although he is merciful, he will not force people to accept his mercy.
When reporters later asked the survivors about how they were saved, not one of them took credit for themselves; they all said they were saved by the shipbuilder. After all, they had no way of saving themselves, and by merely choosing to take hold of the preserver they didn’t contribute in any way to their being saved.