God Loves Tebow This I Know (for his touchdowns tell me so?)
At my daughter’s first gymnastics meet they were short a timer for the balance beam. I offered my services right away. Afterall, I yell “just a few more seconds” for a living. At the judges table I was handed a stop watch. My duties were simple. At the 45 second mark I was to call out, “warning.” At the one minute mark, “time.” An easy task, so I thought.
Then the first girl got on the beam in her sparkly pink leo, chest heaving under the pressure. I watched the timer intently, but when my big moment came I totally choked. A small whimper escaped my throat . . . “www . . .www. .. warning.” It felt so wrong; yelling at these adorable and vulnerable girls. I could not bear to add any more pressure to the three-inch beam they stood upon. Halfway through I turned to the judge, “how am I doing?” I asked. She rolled her eyes with no need to say more.
It was my first glimpse into the brutal reality of gymnastics. It is a sport where you are always losing, your perfect ten deflated by every bent knee and unpointed toe. A sport defined by subjectivity and the preferences of judges. A sport full of pressure and disappointments. Still I was knowingly strapping my anxiety-ridden, and self-loathing daughter into a leotard; asking people to point out her flaws.
Crazy thing, my daughter loves it. She desperately longs to be good at it. But she is just average. The week before a meet she worries, cries, declares she is the worst gymnast ever. The day of the meet she wakes up early, doesn’t breathe for the entire four hours of the competition, and sobs the whole way home because she didn’t win . . . anything . . . again.
Then she catches her breath and vows that she will do it all again next week.
I have had many conversations with her, tried to rationalize with her, tried to teach her breathing techniques, to talk through with her the worst case scenario. After three season, our pep talk is down to one line. “Teagan,” I tell her, “I will love you the same at the end of the meet as I love you now, win or lose you are loved.” It is the last thing I say to her as I straighten her bow and send her off. Then I pray with all my heart that she will win, just once. So far she has not. If anything, it makes me love her more.
I have marvelled lately at Tebow mania. My facebook page tells it all. Christian friends post pictures of Tim praying, give God the glory for every touchdown, refer to every game as another miracle. Non-Christian friends argue that there is no place for prayer at a football game, it ought to be done in private. They post articles about the controversy of Christian prayer verses bowing to Mecca and which is more tolerated in modern-day America. Both believers and non-believers post the Saturday Night Live video where Jesus and Tebow meet face to face. Someone even posted a survey that showed 43% of people believed God was the reason Tim pulled off so many fourth quarter miracles while 42% thought God had nothing to do with it . . . they boasted in the survey, as though it meant God were winning.
Standing back and listening to the debate over Tebow’s faith, leaves me a little miffed. To me, all the arguing has done a huge disservice to the heart of God. If God is on Tebow’s side, what does it say about the Christians on the other team? If God is responsible for all the touchdowns, where was He when the Broncos were crushed by the Patriots? If Christianity is about winning football games, what does that say about God’s affections?
If I, being imperfect in love; love my child the same whether she wins or loses, how much more must God’s love be undeterred by a pigskin and helmets? God’s heart does not have time to be concerned with who wins, because it is too consumed by a love for all of those involved.
I have read a lot of Tebow quotes. He has not blamed God for any loss, but calls every loss exactly what it is: the other team playing better. He does not use his faith as an explanation for wins, but uses his faith as an explanation for his conduct. I think Tebow gets it: God loves him win or lose. That love is his strength.
Today I am discouraged. I feel disposable and unwanted. It seems as though my family is losing in the fourth quarter. Yet I am confident that my current circumstances are not a reflection of God’s heart towards me. Win or lose, Jesus loves me the same. It is a simple truth with profound implications. It is the truth that is lost when we make faith about football.
Whatever game you play today, whatever battle you face, whatever loss you endure remember: God will love you the same at the end of the day, as He loves you now. Win or lose you are loved.
Thanks Tebow, I almost forgot.