Friday one of my blog readers issued a challenge to me to write about Tebowmania. It came right before helping Luke get out the door for a tournament he was competing in out of town. With his bags packed I got teary eyed at how grown up he’s become. I remember when he was as tall as his racket bag and now he travels easily with two. As he turned back to say, “Love you Mom,” I responded with my usual, “Love you too Bud,” but added, “Remember you can do what? All things through Christ who gives me strength,” he answered.
I knew a note I’d written him with this verse on it was in his bag. Since the high school state tournament last fall this has become a little thing between us. I start the verse and he finishes it. I know he feels shy about this so I don’t say it around other people but I try to remember to say it when I can. Where I sometimes wear my faith on my sleeve he’s an easily embarrassed teenager living in a world where that’s not always acceptable to do. The irony of the challenge struck me. I would be thrilled if Luke had the confidence in himself to speak up that Tim does.
Off Luke went and with another chime from my phone I realized I hadn’t responded so I got back to my friend and said, “If I find 15 cents today I will write about it.” I set my phone down on the coffee table right next to a penny I’d already found and laughed at the idea. What could I possibly say that hasn’t already been said? I’m a fan of Tim’s but not a Bronco fan so that would also make it tricky. Knowing not much of the day was left I thought I would escape the challenge and not have to share my thoughts about the man everyone else is talking about. I don’t know what’s happening in the rest of the world but here in Colorado you can’t open the newspaper without seeing his face. Number 15 jerseys are everywhere.
I got back to all the tasks at hand setting the challenges aside. Unfortunately my work at home was interrupted by a necessary trip to the grocery store where I found a dime. Okay now we’re only at eleven so I still think I’m safe but a couple hours later when I met a friend for dinner I got out of my car and found two pennies. Thirteen is still not fifteen I thought so I’m in the clear. I told my friend about the bet I’d made and she laughed reminding me with my luck I shouldn’t have tempted fate. She was right. Before I got home two more pennies jumped out at me.
When I got home I set the pennies on my coffee table next to the other eleven cents and the title of one of my favorite books caught my eye. It’s one I’ve owned for twenty years called, “What My Parent’s Did Right.” It’s a collection of essays written by people successful in their fields that talks about what they believe their parents did right in raising them. This is when it hit me, what did Tim Tebow’s parents do right? As a woman of faith and mother that’s the burning question for me? I don’t really care all that much about the debate swirling around Tim. I’ve only seen one article that I found intriguing and the rest are so biased in one direction or another that I don’t care to read. There are far more pressing matters to debate in our country today than the separation of “church and sports” – that actually being one of the most ridiculous headlines I’ve seen!
With fifteen cents in hand and my son off at a tournament where he would be the underdog I was all the more intrigued by Tim’s parents. How is it they raised such a fine young man? He’s a college graduate, Heisman trophy winner, and NFL quarterback that hasn’t been linked to any controversy so far which in and of itself is a feat. He doesn’t smoke, drink, or get caught with his pants down. He’s 24 years old and has started a charitable foundation funded by more of his own money than donor dollars. Add to that he’s re-energized a failing football franchise the whole time giving glory to God who he truly believes is his Lord and Savior.
Of that list of accomplishments what I’m the most interested in is his obvious passion because whether you agree with Tim or not it’s clear this is a young man with the courage of his convictions. He knows what he believes and why and that influences every aspect of his life. This is a far greater gift than his athletic ability. You can make a lot of money with your football fame but you will go to bed every night without any perspective on what really matters in life if you don’t know who you are and what you believe. This clarity of thought is a gift he got from somewhere and I know his parents had something to do with it.
Live what you believe seamlessly. If you believe like much of the world actually does that all things are spiritual don’t let the skeptics silence your praise of He who is in you.
So what did they do right? Was it exposing him to the message of the Gospel? Yes of course, but I know a lot of kids that grow up indoctrinated with Bible stories they could recite backward and forward and they still don’t know what they believe. Was it a life of service? His parents were missionaries certainly that must have had an impact. You can’t travel the world without recognizing there’s something bigger than yourself underpinning everything that begs for a response from you. Was it being homeschooled? Maybe, but I know a lot of homeschooled kids who actually have no idea why their parents choose to do this. The list of possible answers goes on and on and because I don’t know Mr. and Mrs. Tebow I won’t get the chance to ask them but here’s my guess.
What I see with Tim is that his beliefs aren’t just an intellectual exercise. The greater reality in his life is his faith not his circumstances. Where our Western Civilization will tolerate people talking about their faith it bristles when those beliefs encompass an unseen reality. To talk about the hope you have is fine to connect it to the spiritual world is considered out of bounds. This is true not just for Christians but Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists. For anyone who insists that all things are spiritual there’s a price to pay. You’re mocked. Admitting that something unseen and unproven directs your life takes great courage and humility.
How did Tim’s parents foster this mindset? I can only assume by living it themselves. Children learn what they see more than what they hear. Where did Tim learn to give credit where he believes credit is due? From his parents modeling a life inextricably intertwined with God. A life centered on what they believe rather than isolated from it by compartmentalizing their faith.
This is what inspires me amidst all the Tebowmania but also begs the question. Do my children see me living a life of faith that doesn’t have boundary lines? Does what I believe influence everything I do or is my faith just something I talk about? When I tell Luke he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him do I believe that for myself? Do I put myself in situations where that will be tested or do I just encourage my kids in that direction? And if I put myself out there, do I shrink back when asked about my accomplishments or give credit where I believe credit is due?
Tim’s parents had a bold faith they modeled for their son. He takes a lot of heat for carrying on that legacy but I’m certain it’s not from them. After all they did it, not on the football field but in their circle of influence. You and I can do the same. I’ve got 15 cents that’s challenging me to learn something from this family that hopefully I can pass on to my boys. Live what you believe seamlessly. If you believe like much of the world actually does that all things are spiritual don’t let the skeptics silence your praise of He who is in you. You may get tackled for it but better to fall being remembered for your courage than to stand without any.