As the current NFL season progresses from week to week I must admit: I’m missing Tim Tebow. Yes, I know that’s a typical response from an evangelical Christian. I guess I’m predictable…guilty as charged.
The general consensus for Tebow seems to be, “If he would just give up the dream of quarterback, he might have a long successful career.”
Tebow appears undeterred in his goals. He wants to be an NFL quarterback or nothing. I’m now hearing Christians, who previously supported him carte blanche, now questioning if his goals are too extreme. Is it all that bad to be a famous and wealthy NFL tight end?
As I took a sip of my coffee and pondered Tebow’s decision (since he asked for my input [insert sarcasm]) my mind naturally went to Louis the IX during the 13th century Crusades. Weird, I know. Welcome to my strange head.
Louis was convinced it was his God-ordained duty in life to liberate Jerusalem. His life seemed to be custom-made to be “the guy” who would be used by God in such a powerful way. Louis, unfortunately, caught the plague and laid dying short of his goal.
Louis was a broken man lying there on his death bed. All his hopes and ideas of God working so powerfully were now ending. Had God really been there? He started wondering, “Was God ever with me?” The dying words of a heartbroken Louis IX were “Oh Jerusalem, Oh Jerusalem.” He died with his unfulfilled dream dying with him. A Jesus-loving man died disillusioned.
What does this have to do with Tim Tebow? Well, it makes me wonder whether God can truly give someone a unique dream and then for that dream to never materialize? Maybe God gave Tim Tebow the resolute dream to be an NFL quarterback. Maybe Tebow will shock the world one day by being a Super Bowl MVP quarterback. Maybe.
What if, however, Tebow never plays another minute in the NFL? Was God really a part of Tebow’s story? Did God make his dream so resolute? Maybe Tebow needs to bring it down a notch? How do we know?
Let’s continue walking down this road by moving to a hypothetical situation. What if Noah never saw it rain? What if Noah spent decades building this tremendous boat and then the rain never came? Silence. Prayers followed for rain to come so the boat would float. Confusion followed. Noah had spent his life savings on the ark. Now what?
Noah is excited God has relented from flooding the earth, but now he has a lot of explaining to do. Noah’s savings account is empty. All his time and money were poured into the ark. The flood never came, now the bills are piling up on the kitchen counter.
Noah’s family starts to doubt whether he really heard from God. Noah’s friends wonder if he’s mentally unstable. Noah’s mother-in-law spouts off one night making it clear her daughter would have been better off marrying that other guy. All the while the ark is sitting outside, built well, with no rain in the forecast.
Maybe Noah should start dismantling the ark? Perhaps all that salvaged wood can now be used to enter into the residential home construction business. What should Noah do?
I’ve come across many people in life who feel like they’ve built a God-sized ark and the rain never came. Feelings of disillusionment and embarrassment can sink all the way down to the bone.
A close friend of mine gave his most prime/passionate years to youth ministry. He lived white-hot for Jesus. After 5 years his church dropped him like a bad habit. In his own words I’ve heard him say, “Tim, I gave God my all and he said…thanks but no thanks. You’re fired!” It’s hard to recover from a situation where you build something for God and the rain never falls.
What do you do?
If you’re a friend of Noah:
- Don’t be like Job’s friends. You don’t have enough information to know what God has or hasn’t allowed. Maybe God has told Tim Tebow to only be an NFL Quarterback. Maybe God is completely behind every detail. Even the failures. Maybe God told your friend Noah to build the ark and then God decided for some reason against sending the rain. Don’t be the fool attempting to share the mind of God with your friend. You’re out of your league.
- Be in your friend’s corner. Tell them, “Hey Noah, I’m sorry about all this. I’m praying for you. Is there anything I can do to help? I love you.“
- If you judge God’s presence and activity on the basis of your friend’s success then you believe in the Prosperity Gospel. Instead, you need to encourage your friend in the real Gospel. The most sure way we know God loves us is Jesus. That’s it.
If you’re Noah without Seeing Rain:
- My guess is many people get to heaven and may have a conversation like this: God says, “You know that boat I asked you to build and it never rained?” “Yeah, how could I ever forget“, the person responds kicking a rock on the ground. Then God says, “I loved that boat. You really killed it, it was great. It meant a lot to me when you got knocked down and you let me help you back up. Everybody gave you such a hard time about that ark…but I loved it! It was exactly as I envisioned when I first asked you to build it.“
- Don’t forget God distinctly promised a whole bunch of godly people some really great things and they died without ever seeing God make good on the promise. (see Hebrews 11) God considered them heroes even though they looked like losers.
Should Tebow switch positions? If he actually asked for my feedback I’d say, “I don’t know.” I don’t really care. It’s far more important for all of us that we just live each day for Jesus. That’s the eternally important stuff.
Let success come and go. Let failure come and go. Who cares.
Let Jesus come, however, and don’t ever let go.