The Cogburn Gospel

In the movie True Grit, 14 year old Mattie seeks vengeance for her father’s murder. She’s a fireball, who at many points in the movie offers smart jabs at people she disagrees with or is bargaining with. During one such dealing she quips, “Ain’t nothing free but for the grace of God.”

She hires a Marshal known for his violence named Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn. When she approaches him, she says that he is a man who has “true grit.”

Grit has been somewhat of a popular topic the last few years. It conjures images of someone pulling up their bootstraps and not giving in when faced with adversity. However, the film seems to point that grit foes deeper than that.

Late in the film, Mattie falls down into a cave full of rattlesnakes. She calls out for help. Rooster calls back, but he isn’t able to get to her before she is bitten.

Coburn slides down the side of the cave, and he tells Mattie to look away as he cuts tiny slits into her hand where she was bit. He sucks whatever venom he can get to out of her hand. He calls out to the Texas Ranger LeBeouf, who joined them on the journey, to pull them up out of the cave.

Once out, Cogburn gets up on his horse with Mattie. He rides hard back toward town. Hard enough that he rides the horse to death. After the horse’s demise, he picks Mattie up and runs as hard as he can.

Out of breath and out of strength, Coburn finally sees a cabin in the distance. He falls to his knees and shoots his pistol into the air.

While watching the remake of True Grit last weekend, it struck me how reflective this is of God’s grace towards us. We have all been bitten by a rattlesnake. Our rattlesnakes can take many forms, but they have poisoned us. The venom is killing our hearts and souls. Many of us at some point have cried out to God in some way or another.

Through Jesus, God has climbed down to us in our cave. He sucks the venom from our blood and carries us back to safety. The big difference between the two is Coburn nearly died brining Mattie back to safety. Jesus did die bringing us back to safety.

Ain’t nothing free but for the grace of God

God’s grace is freely given to us. It cost Him dearly to redeem us from our own caves. All we have to do is cry out to Him.


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