A few years ago, a running back didn’t report for “voluntary” workouts one spring. The workouts were only deemed to be voluntary because the league rules required as much. The expectation, in reality, was that everyone who wanted to make the team and play would be there. When the running back didn’t show up, he was asked about it and he somewhat infamously said, “what do voluntary mean?”
I’ve claimed to be “all in” with Jesus for some time now but lately have wondered, “what do ‘all in’ mean?”
Let me tell you this; it doesn’t mean being a pastor or leading ministry or knowing stuff about God. It doesn’t even mean obedience in the things God calls you to which lead you into uncomfortable situations. I’ve been doing all of that stuff but still wonder if I am really “all in.”
The Apostle Paul was all in. He lived a life of service, suffering and sacrifice while writing “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice!” in Philippians 4:4. He goes on to say, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
The word originally used for “anxious” includes the idea of “caring or providing for” your own interests. So don’t care about providing for anything but ask God with thanksgiving. He is our provider; His name is Jehovah Jireh and it is the nature of our relationship to Him (Father-son).
That’s it for me. That’s the point of struggle which raises the question within myself if I’m “all in” or not. By American standards, I am. Even by Christian or religious standards, I believe most would agree. When the standard is Jesus, or Paul, then I’m not so sure.
I’m in and good until it’s just too hard. I don’t necessarily quit then, but I sure do complain. It’s hard to pray with thanksgiving when I’m in the middle of grumbling about my discomfort. That attitude is one of compromise. It’s doubt and unbelief when things don’t go my way. It’s questioning my Father’s “caring or providing for” me when I mis-categorize my wants into the need column. It sure isn’t joy as in “rejoice!” It’s the wound of an orphan spirit overtaking the Truth of adoption.
All in is all in. All is all. This deal is no joke and the consuming fire of a Holy and loving God will burn all that isn’t in from us. The invitation is to join Paul in his joy as we rejoice in our circumstances, no matter how difficult they seem. By the way, the joy that Paul declared in his letter to the Philippians quoted above was likely written in chains from prison so maybe we don’t have it so bad by comparison.