I was traveling recently and met a young woman who was doing big things for God. Things that stretch her beyond her comfort zone. Things that make her weird or different from other girls her age. Things that force her to lay her plans for her own life on the altar of God’s will.
When I asked her how she started down the radical path she was on, she said:
"Simple. A few years ago, I gave God the all-in card.”
I doubt she offered God a physical card. But in her heart, she told God, "I’m all in. You can have every part of my life."
It was a prayer God heard and responded to. It is a prayer not many of us pray.
But Elisha did!
In 1 Kings 19:19–21, we find a little story jam-packed with truth about what it means to really go all in for God. With talk of oxen and cloaks, the context may seem a little odd, but stick with me as I introduce one of my favorite people of all time—Elisha. (I love him so much because he went all in!)
So [Elijah] departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, "Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you." And he said to him, "Go back again, for what have I done to you?" And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him.
Here’s the backstory: Elijah was a powerful prophet whom God used to clean up the land of Israel by kicking out false gods. Elijah’s mission was to call people back to a pure worship of God. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah had a little breakdown. He got super stressed because living on mission cost him a lot. In fact, the leaders of the nation wanted to kill him because of his preaching.
I’ll shoot you straight—giving God the all-in card usually comes with a cost. Elijah vented about all of this to God, and God responded by giving Elijah instructions to anoint Elisha as his successor. That’s where we pick things up in verse 19. Elijah finds Elisha in the field, he puts his cloak on him as a sign of taking him under his wing as an apprentice of sorts, and just like that Elisha is faced with the choice to go all in or to settle for a lukewarm faith.
Elisha went all in.
"Let me kiss my father and mother, and then I will follow you" (1 Kings 19:20).
Then he destroyed the oxen and headed off into a whole new life singularly focused on serving the Lord. Elisha didn’t hesitate. He didn’t play twenty questions with Elijah to make sure everything would work out according to his plan. He didn’t do a risk assessment. He kissed his old life goodbye and watched it burn.
Whatever’s keeping you from surrendering your whole life to God cannot compare to the adventure He has for you.
That’s what it looks like to go all in.
If your first reaction to Elisha’s bold response is to be afraid of what going all in might cost you, I want you to know that’s normal. We all have parts of our life we have a tendency to cling to. Going all in means putting those things all on the table and inviting God to do what He wants with them. That’s scary!
But for some perspective, consider what Elisha’s life would have been like if he had not gone all in.
On his very best day, he would have nothing to show for his life but a well-plowed field. He would spend his days looking at the hind end of an ox instead of the magnificent displays of God’s power he would experience in ministry.
Have you ever told God you’re all in? Have you surrendered every corner of your life and invited Him to do His will above yours?
If not, what’s keeping you from giving God the all-in card? What are you holding back from Him? What parts of your life are off limits to His control? Whatever it is, it cannot compare to the adventure God has for you. A life spent living lukewarm will ultimately look like plowing the same ol’ field year after year. Sure, there may be neat lines and familiar paths, but it’s still just a pile of dirt compared to what life totally surrendered to God’s plan looks like.
With that in mind, are you willing to go all in?
PS: Parts of this post are taken from my book My Name Is Erin: One Girl’s Mission to Make a Difference.
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