Are you ALL IN Too?

Our oldest child, Emily, just began her freshman year at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.  This past year has been a complete whirlwind.  Like others who have traveled this road before us, we experienced many conflicting feelings along the way- joy and sorrow, excitement and angst.   Mixed in with all of those emotions was amazement.  No, it was not because Emily is an amazing girl.  Though I believe if you met her, you’d agree that she really is.  And it was not because the school she had chosen to attend was so incredibly amazing either.  Though, I am certain that many alumni could give me a long list of reasons why Chapel Hill is truly an amazing place.  We were most amazed at how quickly Emily became a devoted fan and completely, committed follower of her new school.

Now I realize that instant devotion following a commitment to college is par for the course.  Many high school seniors immediately plaster that university bumper sticker on their car and wear clothing which bears the name of their college selection.  Even so, we just didn’t expect to see this drastic change from our daughter.  You see, ever since Emily was born, she has been wearing clothes that have the name of our alma mater on it.  Our university’s logo was on her bibs, onesies, t-shirts, cheerleading uniforms, water bottles, and even on her school supplies!  One of her first phrases as a toddler was, “Go Duke!”  Whenever she saw our team name, she reflexively exclaimed these two words.  And after eighteen years of cheering for our team, all of a sudden, Emily Perry is a Tar Heel!

Her brothers are just not okay with her new allegiance to the “dark side”.  All summer they have taunted her and mocked the light shade of blue she now wears with such pride.  Despite their provoking, Emily has remained completely resolute about her decision to attend Chapel Hill.  When she said “yes” to their offer, she indirectly said ‘no’ to every other offer that was made available to her , including our alma mater.  And while that has made for some playful opposition at home, just between you and me, we are very, very  pleased that Emily is ALL IN.   Her enthusiastic commitment arose because she realized that what she was being offered was a privilege not a right.  This attitude to be ALL IN as a student at the University of North Carolina will undoubtedly make her college experience more rich and meaningful.   Her determination to be faithful and loyal, even in the midst of opposition and ridicule, will cause her to link arms with other devoted followers for strength.  Together their strength and devotion will offer her encouragement and support when she faces discouragement, despair, and even defeat while she is on the Hill (especially during basketball season !).

I have to wonder if the disciples were in a similar position at the onset of their calling to follow Jesus.   They were being given the opportunity to live life with Jesus, the rabbi who was performing miracles and attracting crowds wherever he traveled!   Even though being picked by him was an unparalleled honor, they too had to say goodbye to other paths that had been offered to them.  The cost of this decision could not have been very clear at the onset.  Perhaps, they found strength in the crowds at first.  But as more and more followers abandoned Jesus, the disciples were often reminded by Jesus that following Him would not be easy.  Jesus said, “Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:38-39)  Jesus told the disciples they needed to be ALL IN.  He also told them that the Father would “enable” them or empower them to follow Him.  (John 6:65)  I am certain they regularly reconsidered the decision after many followers deserted or opposed Jesus. Eventually Jesus asks the twelve if they wanted to leave as well.  Peter who had certainly evaluated other options replies, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)

Now that all of my kids have returned to the classroom I, too, must take take some time to reevaluate who my teacher is as well.  A disciple is a completely committed follower-someone who has decided to be  ALL IN.  In a world where principles, opinions, ideologies and philosophies that oppose Christ are heralded and godly wisdom and biblical principles are regularly mocked and minimized, disciples find strength by His Spirit, through His word, and by fellowship with other committed followers.

As I hear about Emily’s new classes and see my kids studying at home, I must ask myself who I am following.   Do I know my Jesus because I am actively seeking to study the way He lived, loved and labored on this earth?

When my kids are passionately cheering for their teams, I must examine what I am fervently praising.  Where is my emotion, energy and enthusiasm channeled?  What do I really worship?

When my kids begin to talk about their peer groups at their respective schools, I must consider  who surrounds me.  Who do I walk beside  and who is encouraging me to fix my eyes on Christ when I face trials, challenges and opposition?

Our kids need us to remain devoted followers.   Choosing to be ALL IN is the best decision we can make as a mom or dad.  Our kids crave examples of what real life as a disciple-a completely committed Christ follower- is like.  Every single day they are enticed to follow something or someone else.  All of these paths begin with alluring messages yet end with false promises.  Eternal life can only found by following Christ and His ways.  Even though our kid’s interest in being ALL IN as a  Christ follower may seem minimal or even non-existent, we must remember our own youth and how we were drawn to steadfast people who lived life with passion and purpose.  Our willingness to stay genuinely committed to Christ will always garner more respect, curiosity and admiration from our kids than a parent who follows anything and everything or nothing and no one.  No, we can’t force our kids’ allegiance to Christ but we can trust that our resolve to be ALL IN as a disciple of Jesus will be the most enticing and life giving path this world has to offer.


One Response

  1. Tammy says:

    well done Jackie – God receives all the glory when we are ALL IN!!

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