There is a Lifehouse song that is pretty popular right now on our local Christian radio station and I was listening to it just yesterday. The title of the song is “All In” and, while the lyrics don’t suggest this interpretation, I got to thinking about poker and how that phrase is used in the game of Texas Hold ’em.
I don’t watch much TV but I have seen the televised poker tournaments and have played at enough “Guys Night” poker tables to understand that when a person goes “All in,” that’s a pretty big deal. It means if the right card falls (or doesn’t fall), that person could be done. All the money he has just worked so hard to gain could be lost. Everything he has is now riding on this one card and this one hand and he’s just assuming the odds are in his favor. There is no turning back either. Once the person has proclaimed he is “all in” the money is counted and it is all taken from his hands. It’s in the pot. And this requires those playing the game to respond. They need to stay in the game or fold. There’s no half way now. It’s either all or nothing. And this all has a huge effect on the people watching. I find my heartrate increase as I look at size of the pot and gasp at the sheer volume of money these men are putting on the line (to win or lose) and in the end, I find myself thinking of my own boldness and whether or not I would have the guts to do that. And thinking about all this got me to thinking back to what that means in the spiritual life and what the lyrics to this song are really meant to convey.
In our faith lives, just like in that game of poker, it is a shock to see someone go “all in.” Even if all the signs are pointing in that direction, even if all the odds are in our favor, to go all in means to let go of control of everything, and leave it up to something out of our control. When we decide to go all in (spiritually speaking), it means we decide to let our will be guided by the will of God. We constantly seek the will of God and accept that He truly does know what is best for our lives. When struggles come, we trust, completely, in His providential, loving care. When kids drive us nuts at home, we choose to love them and be patient with them because we know that it is only by the grace of God that we are still on this planet and (hopefully) in his good favor. And then, just like in that poker game, all those people who are watching us will not be able to help but be affected.
There are obvious challenges and risks to living our lives “all in” and for many (including me) that challenge is a bit daunting, but at the same time, it is so intriguing and a little bit…contagious! For many in the gambling world, the thought of being able to go all in and win is what drives them to keep playing. The experience of seeing someone win the jackpot is what drives people to the casinos everyday. And the same is true for the faith…when we see someone who has gone all in and we see them rewarded with an unexplainable joy, we want it! When we read about the lives of the saints and we know that right now they are experiencing the unending glory of Heaven, we yearn for it! In fact, in those moments of yearning we can’t help but sit back and think, “why can’t that be me?”
Suddenly we will find ourselves in the middle of an argument between our reason and our desire, our fear and our faith. Jesus Christ started the betting…he’s all in, what about us? Are we in or are we going to fold?