Monday, January 16, 2012

In Defeat, Glory to God Shines Brighter in Tebow

"It still was a good day, because before the game I got to spend time with Zack McLeod and make him smile..." -Tim Tebow

Heading into Saturday, the media-driven hype surrounding Denver Broncos starting quarterback Tim Tebow had reached an all-time crescendo involving various forms of the web, print and TV.

So when the win-or-go-home playoff match finally took place Saturday night—a heady beatdown by the New England Patriots that culminated in a fairly humiliating loss for Denver—the disappointment (seemingly even by those who expected them to lose) mixed with "I-told-you-so" comments was palpable.

There are plenty of blogs proliferating the internet that have analyzed every physical, football-related aspect of that playoff game this past weekend; to the point where one more is quite unnecessary.

What I wanted to know about is character.

Much had been said about Tim Tebow's exemplary attributes prior to Saturday's loss. And, knowing that true character is forged and displayed in adversity much more than in times of victory and success, I wondered what the reaction from Tim would be after such a defeat. Would he still give God the glory?

Tebow prays w patriotsFrom what I can tell after scouring the internet, this young man—though quite obviously discomfited—seemed to remain solid in fiber and faith. (Tebow prays along with some of the Patriots/Al Bello/Getty Images)

"They had a great scheme," said Tebow about the Patriots in the after-game press conference. "They came out and they played well and they executed well. You've got to give them a lot of credit. I just want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and thank my teammates for the effort they put forth not only tonight but the entire season. I also want to thank the Broncos fans for all their support this season and it definitely meant a lot."

When asked about all the media hype, Tim talked about the value he placed on the camaraderie of his fellow players, "I haven't worried too much about [the media]," he told reporters. "I think the cool part is the relationship with my teammates. The run was a lot of fun. A lot of ups and downs but we really try to block everything in the outside off and just enjoy the relationships with teammates and coaches, and work and try to get better, and I feel like we did that all year. We just didn't put forth a good enough performance tonight. You've got to give them a lot of credit, that's a really good team."

Then Tim was asked about how the loss affected him. He talked about Zack McLeod the 20-year-old Cambridge native who suffered a traumatic brain injury playing football, whom Tim spent time with before the game. "It still was a good day," explained Tebow, "because before the game I got to spend time with Zack McLeod and make him smile. Overall when you get to do that it's still a positive day and a good day. Sometimes it's just hard to see but it depends what lens you're looking through. I choose to look through those lenses and I got to make a kid's day and anytime you do that it's more important than winning a game, so I'm proud of that."

In sports or business or whatever it is we work at and try to accomplish on a daily basis... When all is said and done, and we stand before the Lord someday, it will not be the yards passing or rushing, or the money we've brought in for our company, or how many albums we've sold that the King of the Universe will ask about.

It will be the love we've shown to another individual; did we touch someone else's life for Him—that matters.

As journalist, Vaden Chandler pointed out in a recent article, "It's important to remember that, at the end of the day, although millions of dollars and many jobs are at stake, the game of NFL football is still just that, a game.

It's not a matter of life and death, and I for one am thankful that the Broncos have a QB at the helm that besides being a fierce competitor, also understands that concept and will use his position to help others.

It reminds [me] of one other popular and well-known Orator, who admonished His hearers this way: 'For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet loses his own soul?' (Mark 8:36)"

It's evident to me that even at Tim Tebow's young age, he has these priorities straight.

And, perhaps more so because of this loss to the Patriots; his commitment to the Lord of life, and to touching another individual with the love of God, will shine even brighter.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

God Gets the Last Word in Tebow's Miraculous Win

"Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great..."

[UPDATE]: Due to the sheer volume of feedback received pointing out some other interesting, and quite symbolic stats—after the publishing of the story below—I felt it behooved me to include them: In addition to the fact that Tebow threw for a total of 316 yards (mentioned below), he also averaged 31.6 yards per completion. (Are the hairs on the back of your neck standing up yet?!) There are other rumors that contain 316 swirling around, however these were the ones that I was able to confirm. Because of the frequency of 316 appearing in the stats from Sunday's game, the Bible verse "John 3:16" was Googled over 90 million times, making it the "most searched Google term on Monday," according to the Washington Post. Who knows how many people may have been brought to the Lord by that one verse that spells out the message of the Gospel. No matter how you feel about "Tebow-mania," you cannot deny the impact this one life—surrendered to God—has made. This one person who almost wasn't born as the doctors advised Tim's mother to terminate her pregnancy. No wonder the enemy tried so hard to prevent his life!

By now even those who disdain football have likely heard of Tim Tebow. They may have even been privy to the water cooler remarks regarding the stunning finish to the playoff game this past weekend between "Big Ben" Rothlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tebow's Denver Broncos.

Just when I think enough has been said and written about this talented-yet-humble son of missionary parents, something else incredible—or miraculous, and in this case, pretty symbolic—happens that just can't be ignored! (Not that I would want to anyway.)

In fact, no one has ignored this fact—the entire internet is buzzing with it! But just in case you missed the statistical excitement that has caused a frenzy on the web and over airwaves this week, I'll explain.

A person who has a relationship with the Lord (and sometimes even those who don't), or really anyone who reads the Bible cannot deny that God seems to enjoy using symbolism—ie: certain numbers that may correspond to Scriptures, or have a significant Biblical numerical meaning behind them—to get our attention (or 'blow us away' as some would say).

After losing three straight games with disappointing stats, suddenly rumors had begun to fly that Tim Tebow was all but finished as the Denver starting QB. But on Sunday, along with an excellent performance by the rest of the team, Tebow led the Denver Broncos to an astounding overtime finish. One that ended with some very interesting numbers that seemed, well, emblematic, if you will.

Skeptics might write it off as "coincidence." If, however, one considers that God is the Author of coincidence, and therefore there is none, since "in Him we live and move and have our being," and everything He does has meaning and purpose; then the following numbers put up by Tim Tebow in Sunday's victory will be a treat.

Tebow threw the football for a career high: 316 yards.

That's right; 316. (Or 3:16, if you will.)

Tim Tebow with eye blackIf that number sounds familiar in regards to Tim Tebow, it should. (Photo: Lynn Sladky/AP)

When in college, playing for the Florida Gators, Tim often wore the Scripture reference for John 3:16 in his eye black. Now in the NFL, messages on a player's uniform are not allowed—funny though, how that number came right back up. (Looks like God got the last word after all!)

Criticism of Tebow had grown very ugly prior to Sunday's game, even someone as optimistic as Tim must have felt that pressure. (Although he never showed it)

But in the end, the final stat on Tebow spoke loud and clear.

The Scripture, for those not familiar with John 3:16, is Jesus speaking to Nicodemus (who had sought Him out for clarification). In it, Jesus explains God's plan in sending His Son in order to bring eternal salvation to every person who believes in Him.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."

That's the message that Tim Tebow has always shared...from eye-black to after-game press conferences; he always gives the glory to and thanks his "Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

He's just a regular guy—albeit gifted—who shines the most by virtue of his humility, and who lives to please God and to touch others with God's love. That truly is what astounds even his critics the most.

Tebow prays before the Denver/Pittsburgh gameAs I read journalists from all kinds of media outlets, and numerous announcers on TV, so many of them offer a disclaimer that they're not "religious," but then go on to list Tebow's humble demeanor as being heartening and even refreshing to them amid a world full of narcissism. (Photo: Ron Chenoy/US Presswire)

That's what's so inspiring to me and should be to every Believer. This attitude isn't exclusive to Tim Tebow; this is how we all are called to live: humble before God, caring for and encouraging others; joyful and walking in His purposes for our lives.

Just for fun I looked up 1 Timothy 3:16—since the athlete in focus is a "Tim" —and it starts out by saying: "Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great..." Boy, isn't THAT the truth! In case you're wondering, the rest of the verse goes on to proclaim Jesus, coming to the world for the world to believe. Sounds a bit like John 3:16, doesn't it?

"[Jesus] appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory."

Either way you look at it, the Gospel is preached.

When I first saw the connection between Tebow's passing stats and Scripture in that last Denver game for the regular season, I thought perhaps a few people (most likely Christians) here and there might also recognize and write about it.

But just the incredible speed at which this connection was made by such a vast array of media outlets and reporters—let alone social networking—is astounding.

This simple 3-digit number, the Gospel message it represents, and the way it's spread across the world in just a few days…

Definitely a God thing.