Monday, December 6, 2010

Lessons from a Black Jack Table

"All of my chips are on the table. Even when it's mysterious, risky or dangerous, I'll say yes."

This is one of the points that stood out for me when I was listening to Pastor Brady's message Luke 1. (If you are reading this and are confused as to where this comes from, go back and read my three previous blogs for the whole back story.)

I had to include the reference of "all my chips are on the table" because it so instantly resonated with my time at Anthony's Christmas party this past Friday evening. With it being a casino night, we were all given $3,000 of fun money. I played on the black jack table because it's a card game I know well. Before the night was over that original $3,000 had grown into $300,000! I didn't have it all at one time, but I had winnings of $100,000-$150,000 at any given time. 

What I remember so distinctly, though, is my goal to win enough hands to be able to earn one Pink chip worth $10,000. That is the photo above that Anthony took because I was so excited when that goal was hit. I was jumping up and down! And then that one pink chip grew because I was willing to risk what I had. 

At one point, Curtis -- Anthony's co-worker -- had a pink chip of his own. He asked me to bet mine and he would bet his. I was so nervous. I had worked hard for that chip and even though it didn't really belong to me I didn't want to risk losing it on one hand of black jack. But then Anthony said, "Go big or go home." I was IN! It turns out I had a hand that allowed me a great opportunity to 'double-down'. I had to put up another $10,000 on this ONE hand. "Go big or go home", right? So I scraped up my other winnings and put them in. I could barely look. I was either hitting it big or I was out of the game. And it hit! I won $40,000 on that ONE hand; and then the winnings just continued to increase from there. 

Once I moved past the initial fear of that first big hand, the thrill of being able to do it again was contagious. I remember saying how fun it was to be able to venture out where I wouldn't in real life because the money wasn't mine to begin with. It was all going back to the 'house' at the end of the night anyway. 

As I listened to the podcast, I was reminded of this night: the (almost) terror of letting go of something I had worked for and wanted so badly; the excitement of making the decision to put it all out there whether it came back or not; and the thrill of watching what I was willing to give up not only come back but be doubled, tripled and quadrupled.

A turning point in the night? Betting $100,000 on one hand of black jack not caring whether or not I won it back. By that time I had put so many large bets on the table that it no longer felt right settling on something smaller. I had gone with smaller amounts because that's all I was able to put up, but now I had the opportunity to risk more and I wasn't turning back.

And then the sweetest moment was saved for last. I held onto one Pink chip throughout the night. It just felt right. We soon heard of a sweet lady on another table who wanted so badly to win enough for "one pink chip". After my last hand, I walked over and gave her mine. I had already been overwhelmingly blessed with 30 throughout the night and I  wanted her to know the thrill of that one pink chip. 

Can you see where this is all going? the metaphor God was unveiling through a simple night of fun at a company Christmas party? 

Although gambling fun money at a black jack table is not the same as giving to someone in need from your own bank account, their is a beautiful message that translates to God's promises of giving: we have to be willing to let go of that which we've worked for and strived to build up, because in reality, it doesn't belong to us anyway; it belongs to the House.

1 comment:

  1. "It belongs to the House."

    Have you ever marveled at how God can take one message and speak 1,000 different things to 1,000 different people through it? I smiled when I read the last line of your blog because it showed how witty God is. He related the casino house to His house - for you. BUT that last line also means something very significant to my journey! God has been speaking for us to build His house, not ours. So that five word thought holds a power punch for me too.

    "It belongs to the House." All of it. Yes, God.