My dear family, I don’t reckon that I have yet overtaken it. But this is my one aim: to forget everything that’s behind, and to strain every nerve to go after what’s ahead. I mean to chase on towards the finishing post, where the prize waiting for me is the upward call of God in King Jesus. [Philippians 3:13-14 (NTE)]
Jeopardy contestant James Holzhauer became known for his 32-game winning streak, massive winnings, and his “all-in” hand gesture while putting all of his winnings on the line when answering a Daily Double. A new champion is in the making with Ph.D. student Matt Amodio. Like Holzhauer, he plays an aggressive game and is not timid when it comes to the Daily Double. Last Wednesday, after saying “all-in,” he wagered his entire holdings of $8,000 and lost it all; undeterred by the previous night’s Daily Double loss, he again went “all-in” with a $10,400 wager the next day. His willingness to go “all-in” has paid off handsomely and, by the end of the week, he’d won 28 games and amassed $1,004,001.
Seeing both Holzhauer and Amodio fearlessly go “all-in” when it comes to game show winnings, I wondered if we’re as fearless when it comes to going “all-in” when it comes to God. Showing tremendous confidence in their intelligence and knowledge of trivia, neither contestant allowed previous set-backs to keep them from their purpose. Granted, their goal was to amass as much money as possible yet I question whether we’re as confident in God and as determined in our purpose to serve him faithfully. Are we “all-in” when it comes to following Jesus?
Scripture’s heroes are people who went “all-in” – not with their money but with their lives. Noah was “all-in” when he built the ark on dry land, Jochebed was all-in when she placed the infant Moses in a basket and placed him on the bank of the Nile, and Abraham went “all-in” when he left his homeland, packed up his possessions, and set off to parts unknown. The unmarried Mary wasn’t so naïve that she didn’t know the risks of her choice, but she went “all-in” when she chose to become pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Think of John and James who went “all-in” when they left their father and fishing boat or Matthew who left his lucrative tax collector job. Peter went “all-in” when he stepped out of the boat to walk on water, the woman with the bleeding disorder was “all-in” when she ventured into the crowd to touch Jesus, and the unnamed woman was “all-in” when she anointed Jesus’ feet and hair with her tears and costly jar of fragrant oil. The poor widow was “all-in” when she dropped two small coins in the collection box, Stephen was “all-in” when he continued to preach the gospel as stones rained down on him, Barnabas went “all-in” when he sold his land and gave the proceeds to the church, and Peter and John were “all-in” when they defied the authorities and continued to boldly proclaim the gospel. Like Holzhauer and Amodio, they took risks with no guarantee of success but, unlike those game show contestants, they didn’t do it for themselves; they did it for God. It wasn’t an earthly prize they sought; it was a heavenly one!
Think of the rich young ruler who, although he wanted to know Jesus, was reluctant to surrender to Him. Unwilling to go “all-in,” he walked away from the Lord and missed an eternal relationship with God! What about us? Are we “all-in” when it comes to Jesus? With His words that we are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind,” Jesus is telling us that we are to go “all-in” all of the time. Do we?
He then spoke to them all. “If any of you want to come after me,” he said, “you must say No to yourselves, and pick up your cross every day, and follow me. If you want to save your life, you’ll lose it; but if you lose your life because of me, you’ll save it. What good will it do you if you win the entire world, but lose or forfeit your own self? … “Nobody,” replied Jesus, “who begins to plough and then looks over his shoulder is fit for God’s kingdom.” [Luke 9:23-25,62 (NTE)]
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