Uncertainty in life? Consider an ‘all in!’ spirituality

| June 15, 2017 | 0 Comments


Chaplain (Maj.) David Curlin
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Humans have chosen a variety of analogies to wrestle with the dilemma of how to deal with uncertainty, especially when responding to God.

Our unique human capacity, known as consciousness, allows us to consider ourselves in relation to the greater whole. We know we are part of an awe inspiring reality that we must relate to and live in, but we are unsure exactly what the basis of that reality is.

This human predicament has reminded many of the dilemmas a poker player faces when making a wager. To win in the game of poker, a player must wager without certainty. To win big, the player must bet big. The better the hand, the bigger the wager. Yet, nothing is certain.

Poker players who are paralyzed by uncertainty never win. From the human perspective, every hand appears flawed. This awareness makes most humans hedge their bets. They both choose a hand and make a very small bet, or they fold and refuse to play any hand.

A strategy?
What is your strategy? What hand have you chosen?

Is it Jehovah, Jesus, Buddha or Mohammed?

Maybe you have decided that there is no background story and that life is nothing more than matter in motion.

If you have chosen a hand how big is your wager? Are you hedging your bets or are you “all in”? Who is your adviser? Are you winning? How do you know?

This week as the Christian church begins its annual birthday celebration in the season known as Pentecost one man stands out. The Apostle Paul was always “all in.” He initially refused to wager on Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and aggressively worked to crush the fledgling church. However, after a series of life changing encounters, Paul went all in with Jesus and eventually became the most important proponent of the message known as the Good News of which Jesus is the center.

In a letter to the young church at Philippi, Paul recounted the difficult decision to lay aside the hand he had successfully played as a highly educated and devout Jew to play the tenuous position as a spokesman in a new and suspect sect. How did this gamble pay off? In Paul’s words, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as a loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

All in
Paul went “all in” and the rest is history.

What does Paul have to teach us about effective wagering in this game of life? The lesson is twofold. One, the hand you play makes a tremendous difference in what you understand about yourself and the larger story you are a part of. Two, if you don’t bet big on your chosen hand, there won’t be much return.
Some argue that all hands are the same, in effect, but that is only true when the hands are accompanied by small bets. Big bets lead to big differences.

If you are bothered or disillusioned by the fact that your chosen hand hasn’t produced substantial returns, make sure you’ve made a significant wager, and remember the biggest returns go to those who are “all in.”

(Editor’s note: Curlin is the director of Protestant Ministries for USAG-HI.)  

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Category: Community, Footsteps in Faith, Standing Columns

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