I’ve been putting a lot of thinking into the decision making process lately. And the overall process a Christian faces when learning how to give up all their rights and submit to God’s total authority in their life. Not fun. But SO worth it.
And I’ve been losing at poker lately. And not my typical making it to the final two and losing. This is all out, first hour, never saw a card over a 2 losing. It sucks. I am not a good loser.
(which is different than being a total loser, because we all know I am that!)
So of course, I’ve started to look at God as a poker player. And the process of discerning what to do in a major decision as a poker game. A heads up game: me versus God. Both of us want to win, but only one can.
(queue inspirational music….now)
When you play poker, typically you are faced with trying to figure out if your hand is any good. And if it is any better than the other guy’s. You base this decision on how people bet, on what cards are coming on the flop, turn and river and by any “tells” that the other player has.
(I’m assuming everyone knows poker lingo. I apologize if you don’t. Google it.)
But how does God play His hand? Let’s see if I can make some sense of this.
I’m holding two cards, God has two as well. We both think we have a chance so we both call the blinds. The flop comes down.
And it’s not bad. I maybe hit a middle pair, nothing fantastic. But it definitely has a chance. My plans for my life are looking good! I maybe bet a small amount. God calls, or maybe raises a little. Almost asking me, “Are you willing to keep believing your cards are better than mine?” I’ll call that, it isn’t costing me too much. I may even try to push back with my own raise as if to say “Please, my hand is easily better than yours. You should respect what I’m doing here.” If I just play this properly, I will come out on top!
Then the turn card comes.
Uh oh, that’s not a card we wanted. Now our hand isn’t looking so good. But we’re committed here. So I bet a little more, trying to impress on God that my plans are going just fine and He won’t be able to beat me here. But he calls, or maybe even raises a little more. Nothing big, just enough to not scare me away. I may even start to think I’ve got him scared. Silly me.
This is God slow playing. I like to do it when I have a fantastic hand, but I don’t want to let on it is so good. I know I’m going to get paid, but I want the other player to think he’s doing better than he really is. This way, I make more money.
(God is really good at slow playing. REALLY good.)
Meanwhile, I’m starting to look at Him for “tells”. Those things that He may do to give away just how good a hand is. Is He blinking, stamping His foot, unwilling to make eye contact? I need to know if I am in deep trouble, because I’m starting to think I am!
(God doesn’t have any tells. Darn it.)
But I’m not going to fold. I’m committed. It could also be pride or stubbornness, but I’m not walking away from this hand. If the river card could just go my way, then I’ll have it made!
And the river comes down.
And I know I am done for. My hand is worthless, and I have bet a lot on it being worth something. “But maybe He’s just as bad off as I am?” I think. So I bet a little. “This will scare Him off.”
Nope, God just bet it all. He went “all in”. Daring me to call Him and perhaps lose everything I have or fold and lose the amount I’ve already committed. And it is a lot at this point.
This is the point in decision making and seeking the will of God where many of us fold. Are we truly willing to give up all of our desires and plans? Literally to die to ourselves and live however God wants? Folding sure is easier; because then we don’t lose everything we have. Just most of it.
Can you call the bet facing an almost certain loss? God is daring you to push in your possessions, your family, your desires, EVERYTHING to match His bet.
You decide to call. You have to see what His hand is because it must be amazing.
And this is where the poker metaphor kind of loses itself. Because of course, God is going to win here. And if it truly was a poker game you would lose and walk away empty handed and dejected. You would see His cards, throw yours down and leave the table. (I’ve done that a lot in poker games.)
But in this game you see His cards, muck yours and CELEBRATE!
It gets better. When it comes time to hand out the prize money, you are awarded the prize. Somehow in this game the one who willingly puts all they have on the table facing a certain loss walks away the champion. Richer than they could ever imagine.
This is the way I’m seeing our future. I suspect we’re somewhere between seeing the turn card and before getting the river. My plans are rapidly falling apart and I know God has a much better hand than mine. But I have to keep going in this game; just to see what He has.
So when the river cards comes and God goes all in I pray that I won’t be too afraid to call.
Besides, I’m driven to follow the example of Christ. Jesus was challenged the same way when God called Him to the cross for my sins. God pushed all in and Christ called that bet willingly, lost the hand and changed the world and my life forever!
Praise the Lord I’m glad He did.