You’re playing poker. Your hand is unbeatable.
No bluffing here; you’re sure!
You push your chips – few or many – to the centre of the table.
You say, ‘All-in!’
You are totally committed and if you’re wrong you’ve lost everything, but you’re sure it’s a winning hand.
It’s a good metaphor for the life of the student-apprentice. This is a life lived ‘all-in’. Like the ‘rich young ruler’ who asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life (Luke 18:18), you may have many high-value chips which He asks you to surrender, or you may have only a few. You may have family and friends to leave behind, or, like martyrs down the ages and across the world, you may have to give up your life itself.
But you have a winning hand!
Whatever ‘all-in’ you are asked for, you cannot lose.
Jim Elliot put it well when he wrote this in his journal in October 1949.
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.
In January 1956 he and four other missionaries were killed by Huaorani warriors in Ecuador. They were ‘all-in’. And they hadn’t lost!
But we must be careful, for ‘all-in’ will be different for each of us. For some it will mean a change of career, for others a change of country, for others persevering where they are. We must not make the mistake of assuming that Jim Eliot’s ‘all-in’ is ours. Or that we should sell everything we own and give it to poor, as Jesus asked the young ruler to do.
When Jesus heard his answer, he said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was very rich.
In case I haven’t made it clear, let me do it now: Jesus is our winning hand and with Him we cannot lose. As His student-apprentices we are called to live an ‘all-in’ life. And it’s in doing this – choosing our own death – that we gain His life.
“If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.”
Are you ready to go ‘all-in’?
If so, simply ask God what it means for you, say you are available, and when He answers, take the next step.
Here’s a prayer you could use:
Father, I want to go ‘all-in’ with you. I’m a bit scared about what that might mean. I know it’s not a safe option but I also know you are good.
So please show me your way for my life, step by step, and give me the grace and courage to take the next step, whatever it may be.
I love you!
I think He replies, ‘I love you more!’ Now listen for the rest …