Every once in a while, some friends and I get together to play some poker. The stakes are never too high, as most of us are a bunch of novice players just looking to hang out with friends for a fun night. Just the same, it’s always good to catch up on life over a good game of cards.
Throughout the evening, however, the competitive nature in us inevitably flows through and each player starts showing a more aggressive personality.
We will all aim to outsmart our opponents, teasing them with bluffs or cunningly raising the stakes of a bet in order to squeeze out some of the competition.
Sure, some players might be less ambitious than others with this approach, but at some point, each one of us will eventually take a risk for the prospects of a great reward.
In the end, isn’t that the whole point of the game – to win everything? If someone wants to take home all of the money on the table, he will first have to take all the money of his competitors.
Now, you can do this systematically and over a longer span, which can certainly play mind games with your opponents. Or, you can empty their wallets (or whatever they’re willing to spend that night, at least) in one fell swoop. Either way, you will ultimately have to make the decision to go all in.
To win it all, you eventually must be ready to bet it all. In other words, you must be both bold and brave.
Risking all of your chips without knowing other players’ cards is a huge gamble, no pun intended. After all, poker is far easier to play when you have a strong handle of your odds of winning. Since skilled players hardly ever tip their hand, such an experience is very rare.
The game of poker is much like the game of life in this respect.
Life is far easier to live when we have a concrete understanding of the impact of our decisions. However, this is not always the case.
Without knowing the future, we can only learn from our past and act in the present. Yet, we can make decisions as completely and prudently as possible, ensuring we are as prepared as we can be in order to plan wisely for the unknown.
We can take this same mindset and apply it when imagining an outcome for the afterlife.
If we truly wish to enter into Heaven upon our death, do we not need to give everything we have to God while on earth?
It seems, just like poker, to get the complete gift of eternal salvation from God, we must first offer Him all that we have in life on earth and include Him in all that we do each day.
Just as we cannot ultimately win a game of poker by only betting half of our chips, we cannot set only one foot into God’s Kingdom. Sooner or later, we need to commit our lives fully and wholeheartedly to Him, displaying this covenant with all of our being.
Much like a vending machine that will not distribute a snack or beverage if enough money is not inserted, God cannot fix our broken hearts unless we first give Him all of the pieces. He cannot steer us along the right road in life if we constantly apply the brakes and try to change direction.
No matter what anxiety or uncertainty may come with this realization, we must remember the promises our Lord gives us. We are assured by our God that our paths in life will be made straight with service to Him, and we will be rewarded for leaning on and placing our trust in Him. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Indeed, we venture into challenging waters in doing this, for we do not know the outcome. Yet, we don’t know if we’ll lose a pile of poker chips until we see our rival’s cards turned over and that should not deter us from raising the stakes of a bet.
How much we devote ourselves to God is a testament of our faith – the assurance of all that is hoped for and the certainty of all that is unknown. (Hebrews 11:1)
If we somehow prevent God from receiving us entirely and we do not give ourselves over to Him through daily works of faith, how can we expect anything different in return when we die? (Mark 8:38)
May each of us allow ourselves to confidently go all in with God, in order that we may reap the many blessings available and promised to us each day and on the Last Day.
In so doing, not only will we be both bold and brave in our life version of poker, but we can also enjoy being abundantly blessed.