He’s faster than a speeding bullet.
He’s more powerful than a locomotive.
He can leap tall buildings in a single bound.
But can he beat the New England Patriots?
The experts say no, unanimously, loudly, repeatedly. And one supposes that they are right. The experts make their money being right most of the time.
Still, it is hard to get it out of your mind. That crazy 11-second play when the whole world knew that Tim Tebow was going to hand off the ball on the first play of overtime, but instead he threw it to a receiver who 80 yards later wound up in the end zone, winning the game for the Denver Broncos.
Those 80 yards gave Tim Tebow exactly 316 yards passing. Nice number, 316. As in John 3:16, the verse Tebow put on his eye black back in college days at the University of Florida, prompting millions of people to Google that verse to find out that “God so loved the world.”
This week Tim Tebow was named the most popular athlete in America. One survey revealed that 43% of those polled believe that he is receiving divine intervention, i.e. God is helping him win. I do not doubt that in the least. Several times lately I have heard people say that God doesn’t care who wins, which is not the right way to say it. If God numbers the hairs on your head, if he sees the sparrow when it falls, if he calls the stars by name, he certainly has a plan for the Broncos and Tim Tebow. We distort the Bible if in our attempt to move away from superstition, we remove God from the details of life.
Of course God cares who wins the ball game. And somehow or other, he has a plan that will work itself out on the frozen field in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The pundits say the Patriots will win, and they are probably right. As sportswriter Damon Runyon pointed out, “The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.”
But a nation needs its heroes. Simon and Garfunkel sang long ago, “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.” We need young men like Tim Tebow who seem too good to be true, who quite literally seem to be not of this world at all. True heroes don’t win all the time. If they did, they would be boring and predictable. The best heroes stand for something noble, giving all they have in a worthy struggle, sometimes winning, sometimes losing, but never giving up the fight.
From my perspective, it helps that Tim Tebow appears to be exactly what he seems to be: a deeply committed Christian who happens to play football who is the real deal who doesn’t mind being different and who now and then makes some amazing plays on the football field.
If there is divine intervention involved, he’ll need all the help he can get tonight. But win or lose, Tim Tebow has already won by setting a good example of a young man who isn’t afraid to be different. John Elway commented that Tebow doesn’t have the values of a typical 24-year-old. No, he doesn’t, and that’s one reason why in this cynical age the eyes of the world (a part of it anyway) are on him.
I suspect he’ll do just fine.