I couldn’t watch. After the Patriots made their first touchdown two minutes into the game I found myself covering my eyes like I do in horror movies.
Tim Tebow had converted me into a huge Broncos fan; actually a huge Tim Tebow fan. It’s not the football that attracted me to Tebow but the good works he does.
There was also something really annoying about how people made fun of him for being a person of faith. I can see that for some, the kneeling or “Tebowing” on the field might seem a little much. But then you see players cross themselves all the time and nobody seems to have a problem with that. If Tebow didn’t live his faith it would be another story. But he does.
Because I couldn’t watch, I picked up a book I was reading, “The Last Testament: A Memoir by God” (with David Javerbaum.) Yes, it’s a satire. I thumbed through the book and found a chapter titled “Games On Sports.” Now, before Tebow I would never have read that chapter. But I was thinking, maybe there will be something revealing in here about this Tim Tebow phenomenon.
And here I quote “God” from his memoir, 1:6. “Sport is mythic; sport is epic: sport is a condensation of all human activity; it is often said that sport is a metaphor for life; it would be more accurate to say that life is a metaphor for sports.”
This definitely got my attention so I kept on reading, even though I was still listening to the roar of the crowds as the Patriots scored another touchdown.
“As a sports fan,” continues “God” in 1:18, “ I understand how much the games mean to both other fans and the athletes: the passions they stir, the tempests they roil, the loyalties they build, and above all the rivalry, violence, and rioting they so justifiably evoke.”
What drives a lot of people crazy is the fact that so many fans (43 percent in a recent survey) actually believe that Tebow is being helped by God, that God has overseen his fabulous six game winning streak and his overtime shocker over the Steelers. Some even called that a “miracle.”
Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow walks off the field following an NFL divisional playoff football game against the New England Patriots Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, in Foxborough, Mass.
Tebow has never credited God with helping him win though he does pray before and after games thanking God for the opportunities He has given him. But tell me what team doesn’t pray before the game, and during the half to win. How does God choose?
God has an answer. In 1:19 he says “And so that is why I have never, ever, ever influenced the outcome of a sporting event to determine the winner.”
For Tebow, the pressure, though he doesn’t show it, must be enormous. Not only does he have to be a great quarterback, and an exemplary Christian but he has to hold the faith of so many others in his hands.
Broncos safety Rahim Moore said after the game, “People put too much pressure on him. He’s going to have some good and some bad. I believe in him and I would like him to be our quarterback. Our team gels around him. “
Tebow himself was gracious and cool after the game. It must be, on some level, an enormous relief to him that the season is over and that he won’t be in the extreme spotlight he’s been in all season. When asked about the pressure, he said, “There are pros and cons with everything. Sometimes you don’t want it at all. You just like to be able to go to dinner, hang out with friends, be a normal 24 year old. So that makes it sometimes hard. But I wouldn’t change it for the world, because by having that, I have the platform to walk into a hospital and share with kids. I have the opportunity to hang out with Zack before a game. I have the opportunity to go build a hospital in the Phillipines (which he is doing and where he does missionary work) or to do a lot more important things than football.”
I continued reading the “Memoir” as the score got grimmer and grimmer. Finally I couldn’t take it any more. In the third quarter when the score was hopeless, I turned off the TV and went to bed. I was obviously more depressed than Tebow.
Though Tebow has never credited God for a win, many others have. Here’s “God’s” take on that from 2:17. “To repeat, I do not intervene in sporting events; not because they are beneath me, (for what isn’t), but rather because – and if I sound old- fashioned here, then shoot me Bill Simmons – I care so deeply about the integrity of the game.” 2:18 “Athletes come and go, but the sports themselves remain; and I will never let my feelings toward the former corrupt my oversight of the latter.” 2:19 “I am the Lord thy Ref. I cannot be worked.”
I think Tim Tebow is the last person in the world to think that he can “work” God. He believes that God has given him the chance to do good and he is doing it the best way he can. And he is using all of his abilities to their fullest.
Listen to what he had to say after the game.
“It still wasn’t a bad day,” he said. “It still was a good day, because I got to spend some time before the game with Zack McLeod (a 20 year old with a brain injury sustained from playing football) and made him smile, and overall, when you get to do that it’s still a positive day. Sometimes that’s 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. That’s more important than winning the game so I’m proud of that.”
He should be.
And his God should be proud too.
Though the “God” in this “memoir” is satiric, he has an important message which Tebow learned long ago. It isn’t about him. It isn’t about praying to win. It isn’t about believing that praying to win will influence God. It’s about believing that praying to do good in the world can work. “God” cannot be worked. Neither can Tim Tebow.