There are certain accounts in the Scriptures that leave us in awe. I am talking specifically about the recorded decisions and choices of the people of God as they followed the Lord – the all-out choices they made because they completely understood (and lived out this understanding) that all that they had, and were, belonged to the Lord. These people were all-in; and they were blessed to be brought to this reality. They were given eyes to see what is not seen. They LOVED the Lord. They would do and say ANYTHING that showed that they were His and that they trusted Him. We have read these accounts so often, and know them so well, that perhaps we haven’t stopped to put ourselves in the shoes (or sandals, as it were) of these saints.
There was Abraham. God told him to leave EVERYTHING, and move to a new land. Abraham was man of great possessions. How hard was it to move all that he had, including family and staff, to a new land? It must have taken great effort, and time, and incurred unique challenges. But he went. And then there were the parents of Moses. They were all-in. They refused to kill baby Moses, disobeying Pharoah’s command. And how about those faithful midwives who refused to expose Mose’s newborn existence? They were all-in. Daniel openly prayed to God every day, breaking the law of the land at the risk of his life. And he and his friends refused to bow to the false god set up in their town knowing the consequence would be the deadly fiery furnace. Ruth left her heathen gods, and therefore also her blood family, to follow Jehovah, the one true God, in a new land. The prophets who foretold Israel’s (the OT church) punishment and demise because they refused to obey and follow God, kept up their prophesying though it brought much persecution to them – from the church. Then there was Anna. The widow who spent her entire widowed life in the temple – praying day and night for the coming of the Savior. And one of my favorite passages in Scripture describes the One Who Gave His All, because He was All-In,
“And it came to pass, when the time was come that He should be received up, He stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,” Luke 9:51.
These words describe Jesus’ heart, soul, and mind regarding His impending crucifixion. He was determined to fulfill His purpose on earth – to save those that God, His Father, gave Him to save. And He fulfilled it. And it is our risen and ascended Lord’s grace and power we see in the saints of the New Testament church as they join the cloud of Old Testament witnesses who were all-in – the apostles who refused to stop preaching about Jesus; Stephen, who gazed with joy upon the face of His Lord as the killing rocks and stones broke his body; Paul, who did not account his life to be his own, but poured himself out for the church and the gospel:
“…in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” 2 Corinthian 11:23-28.
And then there is the poor widow at the temple. Jesus watched her put money in the treasury. She puts in everything she has. It was her living. She had two coins and could have kept at least one – or not even given anything at all. But, no, she put in both. Her two mites clinked on top of an abundance of coins that had just been tossed in by some rich temple goers. Jesus says to his disciples:
“Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” Mark 12:43,44.
This woman was all-in.
When Jesus says, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”, He means it. The life of a believer is a life of self-denial. He is not demanding a part of us. He is demanding all, because all belongs to Him. Let us pray to God that He will conform us more and more to the image of His Son – He Who set His face steadfastly toward Jerusalem and, indeed, gave all.