SAGA OF TIM TEBOW STANDS AS LESSON IN STRUGGLES AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF THIS WORLD
It's a battle between Tim Tebow and worldliness, and right now worldliness is winning -- or was, until last weekend. It always seems to win.
Really, it never does (in the end).
Let's back up a moment.
Tebow, as you probably may recall, is the openly Christian quarterback who often wins in improbable (read: miraculous) fashion. Two years ago, he and his mother made headlines when they appeared in a pro-life Super Bowl commercial (controversial because it stood against abortion).
Last year his remarkable, come-from-behind victories as quarterback for the Denver Broncos captivated the American imagination.
"Tebowing" became a new way to pray (kneeling, helmet off and held at the knee, head bowed at the sideline). He wore that "eye paint" with biblical references (the nerve!).
A year ago this month in a dramatic playoff game against Pittsburgh, the Broncos set the NFL overtime record (regular season or playoffs) for the fastest overtime ever, winning in 11 seconds with just one, 80-yard play. He had done the same any number of times as a Gator at the University of Florida, where he was the youngest at the time ever to win the Heisman Trophy (his sophomore year).
It was a culmination of a miraculous series of games that took the underdog Broncos to a spot few expected them to be.
He was unceremoniously and in a humiliating way traded to the New York Jets when a world-class but aging and injured quarterback named Peyton Manning became available.
The Broncos said good-bye to Tebow and agreed to pay Manning $96 million over a five-year period -- certain now, with Manning, that they would not only win playoff games but probably the Super Bowl.
In New York, Tebow quickly sank into further humiliation -- suddenly, a benchwarmer, backup to a quarterback who was among the lowest rated in all of football (more interceptions than touchdowns, and embarrassing losses).
Yet, no matter how badly this first-stringer played, he was picked to start ahead of Tebow, who went from being the most talked-about figure in the National Football League and in fact all of sports -- an incredible example for our youth, one of the most recognizable quarterbacks ever, home-schooled by missionaries, and one who so publicly prayed -- to near-oblivion. When the starter was injured, they put in the third-stringer ahead of him. Quietly, he endured humiliation after public humiliation.
They never even gave him a chance.
A spirit was moving.
All last year, Tebow was allowed to participate in just 91 plays.
Bear with us, those who don't follow football:
He was given just nine chances to pass. Nine chances all season. (He completed six of them.) He was given 32 opportunities to run (his forté) and averaged three yards a carry (very respectable, considering the predicaments in which he was placed).
This is a man who as quarterback for the University of Florida won two national championships and set the all-time record for passing in the toughest division in college football (the Southeastern Conference or S.E.C.). At the conclusion of his college career, Tim Tebow held the conference's all-time records in both career passing efficiency and total rushing touchdowns, appearing second and tenth (respectively) in the NCAA record book in these categories, notes a bio. In his senior year Florida beat Cincinnati 51–24 in the 2010 Sugar Bowl. In what was Tebow's last college game, he completed 31-of-35 passes for 482 yards and three touchdowns and accounted for four total touchdowns and 533 yards of total offense, which set a record not just for the vaunted Sugar Bowl but for a Bowl Championship Series game, period.
Yet, he is suddenly no good. After all the publicity over his Christianity -- with high school and college athletes around the nation emulating his fashion of prayer, and the nation enjoying his dramatic wins -- he has been deemed as unworthy of the National Football League. His name meets with disdain.
No question: he is not the passer Manning is. No question: he is not yet a great passer against professional defenses, which he reportedly has trouble "reading." Maybe he's a backup. Maybe he had his day in the sun. Maybe he will never develop.
No question: some athletes star in college but falter after they turn pro.
But Tebow has not been given a chance and the reason is worldliness. Save for Hollywood and the music industry, no organization on earth is more earth-bound (literally) than the National Football Leaguel (perhaps we can also toss in politics).
For a good while, they seem to have it on the rest of us. They certainly have the money. Look at the Super Bowl ads (if you can do so without a blush). What is considered "intelligent" and "talented" and attractive is often declared such due to conformance with the world. But it is only in the light of the love of God that we find true wisdom. Other paths seem good for a while but are roads of contradiction.
And, so, it isn't surprising: Tebow was cast away, for now, not really given a fair chance. Jesus Himself said (John 15:19),"If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you."
This year there will be a homosexual actor mocking Tebow's eye paint in a different Super Bowl commercial.
If you can't figure out why things are not going "right" for you at times -- many times -- remember Mr. Tebow.
Remember also a few more passages:
John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."
John 16:20: "Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy."
John 18:36: "My kingdom is not of this realm.”
We should expect resistance (especially when we make the mistake of trying to succeed by the standards of worldliness). Remember that Jesus called Satan the ruler of the world.
Is it the end of the Tebow story (currently, no team -- not even his hometown one in Jacksonville -- wants him)?
Probably not. But maybe. Maybe God has other plans. Is he perfect? No.
Meanwhile, with all due respect, last weekend Denver was in a playoff game it was highly favored to win. Again, there was overtime -- in fact two of them. It was against Baltimore. The nation watched and Denver lost as a pass by Peyton Manning was intercepted.
Denver was stunned. Some called it the most painful loss in the team's history.
No doubt, Manning is a good man; a tribute to Indianapolis. A tribute to his own hometown, an attribute for Denver (which has great Catholics, along with great fans).
But for now the record books show Timothy Tebow as having won a playoff game for the Denver Broncos, one more than the man who was paid $96 million to replace him.
[Further note from a news story today 1/16/13 from Associated Press: