And I had this faint sense, that the Lord was inviting me to go into the casino with Him. Since I had nothing else to do, and it seemed intriguing, I decided to take Him up on the offer.
I had little experience ever being in a casino. I also had very little expendable money – this was probably a good thing. I went into the casino prepared to waste $30. (I have since learned that not all casinos are as cheap as the ones in the southwest, but there most bets were between $2 and $5)
So I meandered about the casino, literally taking the opportunity to explore the Lord in the midst of it. My mind was filled with all sorts of info about chaos theory and chance, the Heisenberg Uncertainty principal, and how God seems to do most of miraculous stuff simply by playing with the rules of probability. In that zone of possibility afforded by the rules inherent to the functioning of the Universe, God has left Himself the ultimate loophole by which He can literally do anything. And I was enjoying exploring how to connect with Him in that aspect of His working – testing out whether I could discern when to bet and when to abstain, what to bet on, etc.
So I sat at the craps table, and learned how that worked. I played some blackjack. I wandered in on a poker game. I really didn’t know how most of this stuff worked but I spend some time listening and learning. And over the course of an hour or two my $30 went down to $15, back up to $40, down to $10, back up to $35, so I just kept playing figuring I’d either wipe out or win something.
So two hours into this, I was starting to lose interest, but still felt like I had not yet fully discovered what I was in that casino for to begin with, so I didn’t leave. I picked a new table and sat down – it was blackjack. I sat out a lot of the hands but whether I was in or out, every single hand the dealer either won or tied. (something like that..I don’t remember totally right now except that it was frustrating.)
So at some moment I turned to the guy next to me who was as frustrated as I was and said something like, “Wow – do you ever feel like the cards are stacked against you?”
The man answered resignedly, “Sometimes the card gods smile at you, and sometimes they don’t.”
And something rose up in me. I didn’t immediately know what to do or say. I tried to sense the Holy Spirit for a leading, but got nothing. Still, I felt compelled to say something – and yet I was afraid to put the Lord’s name on the line.
Somehow, something stammered out of my mouth to the man next to me – “Card gods? No….. there’s only One God.” And somewhat sheepishly, I did something I hadn’t done the entire night – I took ALL my chips, all of what remained of my play money, and put it in front of me all at once as my bet on the next hand. I felt like a fool. What was I doing? Yet I did it anyway.
The dealer dealt the hand. And suddenly I was looking at an ace and a king – blackjack. All my money was returned to me – with double and a half. I was utterly stunned. I looked at the man next to me and said again, “See? There’s only One God.” He nodded politely and respectfully, as I grabbed all my chips and figured I had found my cue to leave – I had what I came in for.
Not the money. I walked out a full $20 richer than when I went in. But I walked out in awe and fear. I had not seen God move until I put ALL my chips on Him. I had not seen Him move until His testimony was on my lips publically. I didn’t for a moment think that God was teaching me how to make money in casinos… I knew I had just lived a parable. He wanted all my chips on Him. I had to be willing to lose everything for His name’s sake, and just perhaps, He would bless me in that moment. If I wasn’t willing to lose all, I would never see how He might move.
I was gushing in the parking lot, and as I drove off, in awe – “Lord, what does it mean? How do I put all my chips on you? I want to do this for real – show me how.”
It’s good to remember this.