Are You All In?

The Pastor is wrapping up his sermon and his last point catches my attention.

Yeah, if I’m honest, sometimes a long week, a short night and a few minutes of no kids means my brain takes a break and just turns off. But I’m drawn back when he starts talking about poker chips and whether or not we’re all in.

There’s this boy David who gets anointed as the next King of his nation but then spends the next 15 years waiting to actually take the throne. Nearly half of those were on the run for his life, with people hating him and his family being dragged around. When he said yes at fifteen, he probably didn’t figure the road would be so hard, so harrowing, so costly.

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And I start thinking of the others we rattle off as heroes of the faith who were asked for everything:

Abraham was promised generations as numerous as stars, but asked to sacrifice his only kid like a bloody cow on the altar.

Joseph gets dreams of influence but spends years as a servant, then languishes in a prison.

Moses is fist-pumping, home-boy status tight with God but spends the better part of his life in the desert, leading a grumpy, complaining, disobedient band of people and never making it into the Promised Land.

Samuel gets picked as God’s mouthpiece to a people but only after being left as a toddler in the temple to be raised by a fat priest and his terrible sons.

Daniel moves fast up the royal corporate ladder but then gets served up as a midnight snack to lions.

And what of all the people who believed into the future but were sawed, burned, and ripped apart in the present?

They were all in. 

Pastor asks if we’re all in with our kids, with our health, with our jobs, our housing, our dreams, our marriages, our lives.

Oh I want to say I’m all in. It’s words that are easy to rattle off but much more difficult to live out. Can I offer my husband up? Am I willing to lose my kids, or to live the rest of my life constrained by health issues? This year of moving around seemed like the edges of faith but I’m slowly realizing, it’s only the beginning.

It’s only the beginning of letting go, peeling back the white knuckled fingers to have an open hand with all of it and surrendering every single thing I hold dear for the One I love.

Right now, the headlines are screaming of people who are all in for a different cause, mowing down innocents across the ocean, blowing themselves up because there’s no cost too great for their cause. They’re all in and it’s deadly.

Guided by lies and motivated by hate, their fierce commitment kills and destroys, leaving a wake of bloody death.

What a contrast it would be for followers of the Cross to be all in. Yeah, people want to drag up the Crusades as a cautionary tale but when you look at the teaching of Jesus, you can hardly hold the two in the same hand. And that one happened centuries ago and the other is happening right now.

Following our leader to the extreme doesn’t lead to lives ripped apart, towns desecrated and bodies bloodied. Unless you count our own in laying down our life, giving to the one who takes from you and loving, even blessing, those who persecute you.

It’s scandalous really, when I sit and think about it. Scandalous to love those who are hating you, to try and do good to those who would kill you, to pray for those who are beating you, murdering your family and hounding you this side of heaven. It’s scandalous and it’s costly and I don’t think I really understand what it means to be all in. Not like some of my brothers and sisters on the other side of the ocean. I worship free on Sunday morning and then gripe about whether or not the music fits my style. I have multiple bibles laying about and yet can’t seem to find five minutes to crack them open.

All this while others smuggle the Holy Book into their country, pray and worship in quiet whispers and choose their faith over their security.

There’s a war raging, and sometimes we catch a glimpse when it spills out too close to home. There’s a war and I wonder how many of us are sitting on the sidelines when we’re needed in the battle.

And I shudder to think: when we get to heaven and we’re spending the never ending time sharing stories, will we in the West fall silent and ashamed at how small we lived, at how little we risked for the Cross when we hear of what others endured?

I’m not sure how to live all in, but I know it’s more than what is happening today. To stop being precious with what I have and offer it up, racing ahead towards the only prize that matters, and the only life that lasts. To stop being so easily offended, distracted, frustrated and worn down.

And to watch in wonder at the story that unfolds because I held nothing back in my offering to Abba.

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