The Big Gamble

July 2, 2024

“…I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12, NIV).


His chronic lymphocytic leukemia was stable, so we planned to continue the same medication. I asked him about his shirt inscribed with “Pegasus Invitational.” He began to describe his years of betting on horse races. When he was younger, he studied every book he could find about racing odds. He was careful to bet only small amounts, but he had learned to do well and stuck with it. “I put three kids through college betting on horses. Everything in my house comes from horse races. I saved my salary and put it all into retirement.” He had never been hurt with his gambling because he only bet small amounts. I have no reason to doubt what he told me, but I don’t plan to try it myself, and I don’t recommend it for others.


What are you betting on in life?


What are you betting your life on?


Blaise Pascal in his Pensées proposed, “Either God is, or He is not…Reason cannot decide this question…but you must wager.”


Donald Hankey put it this way, “True religion is betting one’s life there is a God.”


Another word for “betting on God” is faith. Faith is not certainty. Faith is committing to One we know, confident that “He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do,” as Beth Moore writes in Believing God. Faith is my placing into His hands that which I consider mine.


My Heart: “I love.”

My Mind: “I believe.”

My Will: “I surrender.”

My Action: “Wherever He leads” (Mark 12:30).


My patient spent years studying racing odds. His success in betting grew as his knowledge of racing grew. Our faith in God is somewhat like that. Our faith will also grow day by day as we learn of Him, walk with Him and work with Him over a lifetime. As we know Him better and the evidence of His goodness grows (as Josh Baldwin sings in his song “Evidence”), we are willing to commit more and more to Him, willing to risk more and more on a gamble that is no longer risky.


His presence assures us, and His actions convince us our wager is safe.


If we are willing to risk more, we discover that our reward is proportional to our risk.


My patient told me about one of his friends who placed a 20-cent bet and walked away with $56,000. We are naïve and ignorant if we do not realize that our reward/risk ratio is so much greater. Our faith in God is a wager.


But as Paschal put it: “If you win, you win everything; if you lose, you lose nothing.”


And as Jim Elliot put it: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”


Dear God,

Every day, with every decision, let me bet on you.


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