We pray for Tim Tebow. For those of you in other countries or deep caves, Tim Tebow is a young Christian football player who has been shot into the limelight because of his unusual ability as a quarterback and his bold Christian testimony. Because of his willingness to stop and pray on one knee, the posture has become known as “Tebowing.” By every indication, he is consistent and honest and a great guy. He led the Denver Broncos through a six-game winning streak and he was Colorado’s hero.
Was. Now the Broncos have lost three games in a row. We are suffering a letdown. Everyone said it was magic. After six games it looked like the Broncos were unstoppable. They weren’t. They are going to the playoffs because other teams have lost, but there is little excitement in Denver.
There were all kinds of voices shouting cautions, but it was easy for Christians to look on Tebow as an example of how faithfulness pays off in worldly success. Even Tim was telling us that it isn’t about winning or losing. But people were excited by the success and doors were opening for the gospel as the connection between prayer and wins was proclaimed.
The real test of Christian faith is in those times when things don’t work the way we want. If we define success as winning in this world, God’s people and His cause aren’t doing very well. We are not the richest, the best looking, the most popular, or even the smartest. Once in a while, God lifts one of us up for a certain time and a certain purpose; but that’s not the norm. In fact, it isn’t about us or about this world. Our kingdom is bigger.
One of the things I noticed about the legalist system is that success is defined in worldly terms. Oh, they could fall back on spiritual ideas when things didn’t work out, but following the principles was supposed to work—and “work” meant success in this world. Christians who handled money according to “Biblical standards” would have freedom from debt and plenty to supply their wants. Christians who lived by “Biblical standards” would have success in their marriages, their children would be obedient, and they would have good health. These things were promised as evidence of right living. If the formula didn’t work, you didn’t do it right.
So, if Tebow prays, he should succeed. What if he loses a game or flubs a pass? Well, maybe he didn’t… or maybe he… or… or…or. People tied into performance formulas have to find a cause to explain the effect. But could it be that God is just as much with Tim in the losses as in the wins? Could it be that God’s plan is bigger than worldly success?
Actually, I think Tim Tebow will be just fine. He’s young and he is in the refiner’s fire. Popularity is something most of us have never really experienced, at least not to the extent he has in the past few months. If he keeps looking to Jesus, instead of the win/loss stats, he will find that everything is okay. God is with him today just like He was before.
Losing is part of the game. We all know it and we don’t particularly like it. But I have learned a lot more by losing than I ever did while winning. And so have you.