As you get older you see a number of trends that just make no sense. Some of the craziest and most unforseen trends that I have witnessed is the growth of the bottled water industry (especially in places where tap water is more than suitable), the growth of the Little League World Series as a television sport, and perhaps most strange to me is the growth of poker on television.
I learned to play poker as a child. I was the youngest in my family and we would play 5 card draw, or 7 card stud to pass time and just hang out. Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine that a card game would be a made for TV spectacular. Enter the World Series of Poker (WSOP). I suppose the tournament was on television for years before ESPN picked it up, but I can remember watching the 2003 WSOP main event and being captivated by the show. Guys would lose tons of chips on one hand and then win them back on the next. The back and forth was great, and the human interest stories made the poker players likable. I became familiar with the term “All In” when one player deemed his hand good enough to wager all his chips on one hand. This player if he lost would be eliminated from the tournament. Sometimes the player would win, other times the player would lose and go home, crushed.
The concept of going “All In” is a decidedly Biblical one. We see in Matthew 13, two parables that show that we should be fully committed to following Christ. The first is the parable of the treasure in the field. When the man finds the treasure, he sells everything that he has so that he can buy the field, and the treasure it contains. The next parable is the one about the pearl of great worth. In this parable a merchant has been looking for the perfect pearl, and when he finds it he sells everything and buys it. These parables teach us to not hold anything back from following God. We are not to be half-invested in the Kingdom of God, but rather we are to liquidate all that we have and invest 100% of what we are into following the Kingdom.
Our youth have begun another year of school. They are learning new things. They are meeting new friends. I challenged them, not to take this year for granted, and not to be half-devoted to Christ. Instead, they are challenged to make this year count, and to be All In for the sake of Jesus Christ. I am praying to that end, and I hope that the parents of our youth are praying for that as well. Grades may come and grades may go, but the kingdom of God will last forever, lets invest fully in what lasts.