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Going ‘all in’ with God

I was playing Texas Hold ‘Em at Jeff Hylton’s house with a bunch of other guys.  I had a good hand – two pair.  And then the dealer flipped another card and it was the same as one of the pairs.  It gave me a full house.  At that point I looked around the table at the other pla…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

I was playing Texas Hold ‘Em at Jeff Hylton’s house with a bunch of other guys.  I had a good hand – two pair.  And then the dealer flipped another card and it was the same as one of the pairs.  It gave me a full house.  At that point I looked around the table at the other players.  Some had folded.  I thought to myself, “I bet I’ve got the best hand at the table.”

And so I did what Jesus asks every follower of his to do with his life, I went “all in.”  I took every last chip and moved it to the middle of the table.  I bet everything on that hand.*

Jesus tells a parable about a man plowing a field who found a treasure.  He sold everything he had to buy the field and get the treasure.  In other words, he went all in.  Jesus compares us to that farmer and the treasure he compares to the kingdom of God.**

At some point in life we stumble across the kingdom of God.  We have the opportunity at that point to reprioritize our life and leave the former things behind.  We sense that it’s worth it, but we have to go and actually make the exchange in our hearts, freeing ourselves up to follow Jesus without encumbrances.

The question to you and me is, have we gone all in?  Have we let loose of those things in our lives that we prized?  Have we prioritized the kingdom of God? 

How loosely do you hold your home, your family, your career, and your stuff?  Today’s a good day to go all in.

*The illustration falls apart after that: I ended up losing the hand to someone who had a straight flush.

**Matt 13:44

Comments (14)

  • The fact that someone else had a straight is actually a perfect extension of the illustration. Would you have gone all in if you knew that you would have lost it all? It shows a very human tendancy that most will only go all in when we think we have the upper hand. In God’s economy (or dare I say the divine poker table) our faith should allow us to go all in even when the outcome is uncertain and the only thing we really know is that Abba loves us. If we lose it all with the surety of gaining the kingdom of God, is there any doubt that we should go all in? Still, I confess I find it to be much easier said than done.

  • I’m always amazed (don’t know why, I should just expect it by now) how God speaks through this blog. It seems whenever I’ve been wrestling with something, I turn on the computer and your post speaks directly to it.

    So here’s to going all in, putting my hand to the plow and not looking back. Thanks.

  • Too weird. We just finished a series called “all in”. I couldn’t figure out a good way to illustrate it with the gambling issues in the south, so we went with an image of kids jumping into a pool.


    I love when people come up with things like this completely on their own and then see several other people doing the same thing. I think it says a lot about how the Holy Spirit moves among us.

  • Just perfect.

    I love the illustration, something so many rightists would take issue with. Rather than embrace the concept they would be worrying about poker, cards and gambling as the example…

    I am so tired of the contentiousness over minutia, (sp?) why can’t we embrace the commonality, a love for Jesus, as the starting point?

    Before you can go all in you need to learn how to play. God is there for that too. So at first it may be tentative, but there does come a point where reckless abandon takes hold, and going all in becomes truly the only option. Unfortunately the enemy of reckless abandon is fear and causes us to become tentative at times.

    But I am holding everything except my passion for Jesus pretty loosely these days.


  • “It has never been practical nor useful to leave all things and follow Christ. But it is spiritually prudent”…

    Thomas Merton said better than I ever could the visceral yearning of a broken heart.

    Thanks Seth…….

  • Crazy, I posted about this same thing yesterday…! I likened it to jumping off a high dive:

    “I may think I’m being radical, following Jesus with my entire life, surrendering my will and desires to his leadership – when I’m actually more like a little kid at a swimming pool who’s climbed the ladder of the high dive, standing up there thinking he’s really done something big. Yet he hasn’t jumped off yet, hasn’t taken the plunge. Just standing at the top, looking down on everyone else, feeling smug.

    Am I ready to follow Christ where it hurts? True abandon, complete surrender, reckless faith…?”

    I’m convicted by my own mediocrity.

  • **mArC** The Schifano Tribe

    I wonder if too many people, wouldn’t even sit at the table. So how can they go all in?
    Man, I love your articles.

  • Great thoughts. I was actually thinking about this last night, as I’m in the midst of a missions conference with some of the top Latin American missions authorities.

    As we learn about missions, many of us acquire a love for missions. We have a passion for missions. We learn about it, read about it, teach about it, blog about it, talk about it, spread our passion. That’s all good.

    But when the rubber meets the road, “missions” meets “our mission” and that requires sacrifice. It calls us to give up not only our comfort, but our independence.

    Good thoughts.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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