I fell asleep last night before the end of the Denver/New England football game but... truth be told... I had switched over right before halftime and started watching Miss America. It's not that I can't stand to watch Tim Tebow lose. It's that his mission was - and always has been - so much bigger than what actually happens on the field. I knew that if the game turned around - and it didn't - that I could catch all the highlight clips today. I also knew that the rest of the broadcast would be negative and I didn't need to hear all of that.
I think one of the fundamentals of Christianity is that you have to be able to believe things not seen. Faith, simply put, is believing in things you have not seen. Tim Tebow hasn't been a successful football player because he is a Christian, although, certainly God has gifted him and equipped him in a unique way. Tim Tebow has been successful because he never listened to those who told him he COULDN'T be successful. Sometimes in life you have to stop listening to the naysayers. Sometimes you have to believe in yourself... in your God given talents...
I don't believe you'll ever come across a single narcissistic Tim Tebow quote. He has confidence in himself only because he has worked hard, trusted God and has good people on his team who also work hard. He gives credit to God first, his teammates second and just acknowledges and honors the blessing of being a part of the team. His attitude hasn't changed since he was a third string quarterback with a throwing motion that "couldn't work in the NFL". When people say negative things about him, if he says anything at all, he says very simply, "pre-shate that" OR "God bless".
You really don't have to engage in a verbal argument with people who don't believe in you. Nor do you have to engage in a verbal argument with people who don't believe in God. You very simply just have to live your life in such a way that the arguments are silenced. Get out there and do the very thing that they said you couldn't possibly do. It doesn't always come easy. The miracle comes when people who otherwise shouldn't be successful at something ARE successful. What's unique about Tim Tebow is that when he does the thing he shouldn't be able to do, he recognizes the reason for his success. He gives glory to God first, his teammates second and I don't know that I've ever heard him take any praise upon himself other than to acknowledge that he has worked hard.
What's the lesson in that? Faith + work = success. You know where people check out on God? They get the equation backwards. They want you to prove it to them first... they want the success - the blessings - first and then they'll believe. Believing in what you have already seen isn't faith. Expecting success in something you haven't worked at is foolish.
And when you fail... without having worked at something... without having believed it possible to do... how does it become God's fault? People don't believe in God because things haven't gone the way they expected them to go.
You won't find many quotes attributed to Tim Tebow but there is a much loved speech that is referred to among the Gator Nation as "The Promise" that is so highly respected that it is on an engraved plaque outside the football stadium. It came after a heartbreaking loss to Ole Miss that prevented the Gators from having an undefeated season.
“To the fans and everybody in Gator Nation, I’m sorry. I’m extremely sorry. We were hoping for an undefeated season. That was my goal, something Florida has never done here. I promise you one thing, a lot of good will come out of this. You will never see any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of the season. You will never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of the season. You will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season. God bless.”
He did exactly what he said he would do. They went on to win a National Championship. Losing showed him that he had not done everything he needed to do to be a winner. He took the responsibility on himself, he didn't blame God for failing him... he blamed himself for failing God. (you can read more about the Promise and other things that make Tim Tebow a legend beyond his years at http://www.timteblog.com/2009/12/top-tebow-moment-no-1-promise.html )
I'm sure in the grand scheme of things that Tim is disappointed in his performance last night. Yet I suspect that his mission on this earth was so much greater than winning football games. He's got the whole country talking about how a quarterback with the wrong skill set could win. He's got the whole country aware of how different he is... he's not showing up outside of nightclubs. He's not trash talking. He's not walking around with a different girl on his arm every week. He's not self absorbed. He has humility and wisdom beyond his years. More than that, though.. he has the sports world talking about Christianity. They may not believe in God any more than they believe in Tim Tebow but it's hard to argue with his results.
I love watching Tim Tebow win but I am so greatly encouraged by who he is when he loses. The passage of scripture that Tim posted on his facebook page yesterday was Romans 8:37-39 which says:
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Life is bigger than a football game... just as life is bigger than my little office and what goes on there. God is far more concerned with the change that happens in our lives as we travel from loss to victory and back again. No matter how successful we are... if we choose Him... nothing can separate us from Him.