Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 1 Corinthians 9:24, RSV
To go all out means to do one’s best, to give full measure, or to give everything and hold nothing back– nothing. In poker, “All In” means to be totally committed to your hand, and you are so totally committed that you are willing to bet the house.
A bomb exploded near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, killing 3 people and injuring more than 260 others. One year after this bombing, Meb Keflezighi cried as he crossed the finish line as he became the first American to win the Boston Marathon in over 30 years as he added Boston to a resume that includes the New York City Marathon title in 2009 and a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics.
Meb Keflezighi was all in and he went all out. Running just two weeks before his 39th birthday, he had the names of the 2013 bombing victims on his bib, including 8-year-old Martin Richard, 29-year-old Krystle Campbell and 23-year-old Lu Lingzi. (MIT Officer Sean Collier was shot three days after the marathon.) “At the end, I just kept thinking, ‘Boston Strong. Boston Strong,” Keflezighi said. “I was thinking give everything you have. If you get beat, that’s it.”
All in and all out. That’s how we should live and approach life. Be all in and go all out. Anything less is either laziness or indifference. And this is a Biblical principle. Jesus gave this admonition: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat — I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self” (Luke 9:23-25,THE MESSAGE).
Make no mistake; coming after Jesus is simply living life the way it was intended to be lived. Life is to be lived in connection, in community, in communion. We are to live in association and in collaboration with our brothers and sisters, and this association requires connection and communion in the community we live in.
All in: It means giving 100% one hundred percent of the time. Half-heartedness is like a half-baked pancake; it’s done on the outside but gooey and nasty on the inside. It just doesn’t taste right. We are like Ephraim when we give less than our best. The Prophet Hosea said “Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned” (Hosea 7:8, KJV).
Sometimes we’re not all in. Like Ephraim, we are cooked on the outside, but raw and undone on the inside; half-baked. There are portions of our life given to God and potions held back; half-baked. Our spiritual side is developed, but our emotional side is undeveloped; half-baked. Our law side is strong, but the love side is weak; half-baked. E. Stanley Jones said “a half-Christianity is more of a problem that a power. Half-baked Christians are a halfway house trying to become a home. And no one can live in halfwayness.”
All out: this is the remedy. Giving our all is what every coach comes to expect from every player and what every team should aim for and aspire to in every instance.
The tragedy of the 2013 Boston marathon galvanized a city and bolstered the Boston Red Sox to another World Series win. And commemorating the three victims is why Meb Keflezighi won; he was all in; all in to the marathon and all in to the memory of the victims. He went all out and determined to defeat the demons of fright and fear that forbade runners to run in the Marathon again.
When we give our All to God, He gives His all to us. The hymn writer put it best: “Thou and Thou only first in my heart, High King of Heaven, my treasure, Thou Art.” So let’s go all in, and watch how God goes all out for us.
Be Thou My Vision
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
English version by Eleanor Hull, 1912