All In

All In

Jesus wasn’t afraid to be graphic. When driving home a major point, He used strong metaphors—like amputating hands or plucking out eyes if they lead you astray.

Jesus offended people in his first lesson on communion, saying they’d have to drink His blood and eat His flesh. (John 6)

Jesus on the crossAnd He’s willing to go way beyond metaphors when everything is at stake. His crucifixion—a most violent death—was necessary to resolve our separation from God.




No mild mannered version of Jesus will do.

What’s the underlying message? What is He saying with such bold language and sacrificial actions?

“I want you all in.

And so the question is on the table—“Are you?”

It starts by having a real relationship with God. You can’t settle for religious activity. Your internal life has to match your external life. In the words of James Ryle, you have to grow to the point where you have nothing to fear, nothing to hide, nothing to prove, and nothing to lose. And you have to let God be God—refusing to shape Him into the modern day image of what seems socially acceptable.

God is God, and we are not. Scripture is pretty graphic when we don’t get that right.

“Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it?

Is the saw to exalt itself over the one who wields it?

That would be like a club wielding those who lift it,

Or like a rod lifting him who is not wood.

Therefore the Lord, the God of hosts,

Will send a wasting disease among his stout warriors;

burning reeds. fireAnd under his glory a fire will be kindled like a burning flame.

And the light of Israel will become a fire and his Holy One a flame,

And it will burn and devour his thorns and his briars in a single day.

And He will destroy the glory of his forest

And of his fruitful garden, both soul and body,

And it will be as when a sick man wastes away.

And the rest of the trees of his forest will be so small in number

That a child could write them down.”

–Isaiah 10:15-19 (NASB)

In other words, Jesus is the head, and we are not. We are the body. All this is to prepare you for a startling and disturbing dream I had one night.

In the dream, I was at a church retreat in a modern academic facility. I stood in a cafeteria line waiting for a plate of food. One side of the dining area had an entire wall of glass windows, which looked out on a track that encircled a football field. I received my dinner and went to find a seat at a table.

sleeping foalChurch members were eating and chatting happily. But as I sank into my chair, I noticed a white horse running around the track in a full gallop. To my utter shock, the horse had been beheaded! A small girl in a long white dress rode bareback on the horse, embracing its remaining neck and shoulders. Blood steamed down her arms, staining her dress. She sobbed bitterly for the horse, knowing it would soon die. The horse made once last lap, and then it collapsed.

I felt stricken. The grotesque scene made me nauseated. Tears welled in my eyes. How could this be? Who would do such a gruesome thing to this beautiful animal? How did the horse even run at all?

Group Of Friends Meeting For Lunch In Coffee ShopYet, no one in the cafeteria seemed the least bit disturbed. The retreat went on as planned. Everyone in the dining room could see what was going on—that is, if they wanted to. The horse’s tragic demise should’ve been evident to all, but most of the church people went right on talking and eating as if nothing had happened.

When I awoke, I felt horrified. I asked the Lord about it, but it took some time to unpack the message of the dream. Later I came to understand the images. Please note that dreams are highly symbolic, and it’s a mistake to interpret them too literally. Here’s what God showed me:

–Christ is the head of the church, and we are the body. A living organism cannot survive without its head. For a time, the church can go on as if it didn’t need Christ, but in the end, that is futile.

Attractive blond girl in woods.–The young girl, representing a spirit of purity, wept over the tragedy for future generations.

–The church members at the retreat maintained business as usual. They were unmoved. This echoes the church leader’s message to Jesus in, “The Grand Inquisitor,” a famous chapter of Dostoevsky’s novel, The Brother’s Karamazov:

“We don’t need You.”

–The dream was exceedingly graphic to show the level of God’s concern. How grievous it must be to God when we leave Him outside, knocking on the church’s door. (Revelations 3:20)

–Often dreams like this are for warning and prayer. And they offer an opportunity for self-examination.

The church cannot go on without a vital connection to Christ, the head. Merely being religious can actually run counter to authentically knowing God. I believe the “death” of religious Christianity has been going on for quite some time. True followers of Christ will be “all in.”

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons (and daughters) of God.   –Romans 8: 18,19,14 (NASB)

Man Praying by the Sea at SunsetHow can we be led by the Spirit? It’s high time we learn. Start now. Close your eyes and tell God something that is pressing on your heart. Then listen—for one word, a phrase, a Scripture brought to remembrance. Look for a symbolic image on the screen of your mind. Don’t discount it. Search it out. Look up words in the dictionary to better understand their meaning. Read the Scripture. Ponder. Is God giving you instruction, warning, guidance, or encouragement? Remember, His tone is not condemning. He is love.

I invite you to share your thoughts below.


  1. Wow. Just wow. Profound revelation. Lord give us eyes to see.

  2. Dear Susan,
    your dream is both horrifying in its message and metaphor and beautiful in its clarity. I agree with your dream interpretation. What I find reassuring is that God is God, the great I AM, His Word is the unshakable Rock and reliable guide ,his Son Jesus the Way. We disregard God’s word at our own peril, much like the hiker who throws away the compass, relying instead on past experience and pride. We are to share the Good News, live without worry and press forward to our last breath sharing the love of Christ and his message of salvation…..all in. yup, that’s it Susan, we have to be all in. There is no greater force on earth than the love of Christ in the darkness. We don’t just need Him, we will die without Him. Keep up the good work, I strive daily to be all in. There’s a welcome simplicity in that idea. love as always, your sister in Christ, janet

  3. without going into details here, i will just say that your reminder to sit with god and listen today was timely. nothing can stop him from getting across to us what he wants us to know for any and all besetting circumstances. he brought two words to mind. and as i dug deeper the words showed up again (big surprise, ha!) in the places he led me to search. i have received great encouragement and even a bemused chuckle. which i wouldn’t have thought possible, considering….
    thanks, darling
    suzee B