I am not a big football fan. I am however, a huge God fan. When my husband (a fan of both God and football) told me the following story about Tim Tebow, I knew it was something I wanted to share.
Tim Tebow may have caught your attention as a Florida Gators’ player when during the BCS championship game in 2009 he had the verse John 3:16 written in the eye black beneath his eyes. "For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."
As Tim’s career has moved into the professional football arena he continues to bring God into the forefront whenever he has the opportunity. Anytime you take a public stand for God, people are watching you. Christians are watching and admiring you. They are cheering you on and perhaps asking God to help them live with the same boldness.
Non-believers are watching too. Maybe with sneers and disapproval, not really understanding why someone would have faith— I mean, what is the point? And maybe even hoping for the person’s downfall to strengthen their belief that believing just isn’t worth it. You can be sure members from both camps were watching in record numbers on January 8, 2012 when the Pittsburgh Steelers took on the Denver Broncos (Tim Tebow’s team).
Tim had been having a rough go of it prior to this game. The Broncos closed the season with three straight losses. Needing just one win in the regular season's final two games to secure the AFC West championship, Tim Tebow had his worst games as a pro. This game proved to be the end of Tim’s slump as he led his underdog team to a victory with an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime. With the overtime only lasting one play, this dramatic ending would have given fans enough to think about- but God had bigger ideas.
God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He could give us signs to reassure us all day every day but He wants us to walk by faith, not by sight. He is not in the business of being flashy to get our attention or giving us our every whim so we decide to follow Him. God wants us to love Him because He loves us, and follow Him because of our love for Him, no matter what path He takes us on.
I believe Tim Tebow, with his unashamed commitment and testimony to God, lives that way. He seems to know that God is with him during the valleys as well as the peaks. But this Sunday night game, for me, was not about Tim Tebow. It was not about the Denver Broncos. It was not about a dramatic win by the underdog team; for me, it was about God.
On January 8th I believe God gave us a show. A show like He did for another divided group, the Baal worshipers and Elijah, or the followers of the Lord. For those of you who don’t know the story, it is found in 1 Kings 18. This show did not occur on a football field but on Mount Carmel. Elijah, a prophet of God, had the idea to have a show down between God and Baal (a pagan god of this time period).
The plan was to get two bulls, cut them into pieces and put them on wood, but not set the wood on fire. The Baal worshipers and Elijah would each call on their gods to set the wood on fire. The god who answers would be proven to be the real God. The people thought this was a good plan. The Baal worshipers prepared their altar, and then called on their god from morning to noon. At noon they resorted to cutting themselves, as was their custom for calling on their god, but evening came and still no answer.
Now it was show time... Elijah 18:30- 39:
"Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold three gallons of water. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.” “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. (You may want to reread that last sentence.) When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”"
Now I call that a show!
The show God put on for us January 8, 2012 was a bit more appropriate for the times. January 8th was exactly three years to the day when Tim Tebow famously wore John 3:16 on his eye black for his victory game in the collegiate national championship game. On January 8th Tim Tebow threw for exactly 316 yards. On January 8th Tim Tebow set an NFL playoff record with 31.6 yards per completion. On January 8th the TV ratings on CBS peaked between 8:00-8:15 ET with a rating of 31.6.
Now I call that a show! And the title for that show— For God So Loved the World.