The Secret of the Bluff: Fooling Yourself

Tick tock – I have 30 minutes to compose this post. Pressure’s on. Do. Act. Decide. Now.

Ever felt that way? Ever been in a high-stakes, cut-to-the-chase ‘death’ match? (Hint: every living breathing soon-to-die one of you should be answering yes.)

I say “answering” because it’s a process we are going through – not yet has the bell completed ringing. And I can assure you, I’m going back and forth, back and forth, on how I will play it out. BUT, I’m pretty damned sure the game is REAL.

I want to present four movie scenes – looks on characters’ faces as they realize they were fooling only themselves:

The Hunt For Red October – the Russian Alpha sub’s captain just before his own torpedo hits

Independence Day – Will Smith’s pilot friend giving up (having just taken off his mask)

Lethal Weapon – both Glover’s and Gibson’s faces inside the store after Mel jumps with the would-be suicide guy

Indiana Jones Last Crusade – Indy’s face as he stands there at the Lion’s head with his foot out, waiting to choose to take that step onto that “invisible” walkway

Classic movie lines. “You’re not trying to draw a psycho-pension. You really ARE crazy!”
“I’m HUNGRY.” “It’s time to ask yourself what you really believe.” “You arrogant ass. You just killed us.”

20 minutes.

Turns out, all these characters were bluffing. Or rather, they’d been fooling themselves –about what they themselves really believed. I sometimes – quite often these days – feel just like that. Except it’s what my senses are telling me is real that is the false belief.

The bluff works because the bluffer has to act or convince himself or be seen as believing that his or her hand is a winner. Despite the “on paper” “face value” “actual” value of the cards. In sports they say “That’s why they play the games.” How many epic come backs (or, from another point of view, collapses) can you think of? What were the players on each side thinking? What were they believing or (as the game progressed) convincing themselves of? I’ve never met a million-dollar lottery winner, but if I did, I’d ask them, “Did you really think or believe you could or would win? Or were you bluffing – just hoping with some kind of reckless faith?” (Should we spell that wreckless?)

Because that’s the thing about bluffing. You have to believe the bluff is going to work – despite the face value of the cards. Despite all this collective experience that says it’s not possible. It can’t succeed. You have to be willing to risk it all on a single play.

Because that’s what you’re actually playing with (or against?) The bluffee’s response. That your opponent will believe that you believe. What you believe. That’s the whole thing about the message of the cross being foolishness to others. To those who don’t believe. I believe. I know somehow that God’s going to make it possible to make that leap from the Lion’s head, but my senses are lying to me, distracting me with a concern about how. The bluff is my experience of “this world’s” reality  vs what I’ve experienced by faith. So I’m not even really sure I’m bluffing or really believing. (And if you’re as confused as I am by that very statement, I assure you, you understand what I’m talking about. Fully.)

10 minutes… Clock’s ticking. What’s your play?

Is God bluffing? After all, we can’t “prove” what we know to be true and real. Think about those epic sports collapses. There’s an’art’ to failing, just like there’s something sacred about hanging onto that belief, keeping that faith that somehow, some crazy incredible, unbelievable way – despite spite all sense – the victory is already complete. Against all the odds.

“Every part of me cries out to be with the Living God.” Psalm 84:2b

“Lord All-Powerful, great blessings belong to those who trust in you!” :12

2 minutes.

“Overcome My enemy. Frustrate his anticipated victories by keeping a steadfast heart with prayers of faith. Yet do not expect Me to overcome through mysterious power… through hidden works as if by magic. I work with power through My Spirit, and My Spirit is within you. I will work in your heart and in your hands. My power is yours to tear down the strongholds of the devil through My Gospel.” – Houge, Refreshed in Christ, Day 30

1 minute.

“And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.” 1 John 3:19

I’m out of

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