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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Despite the Loss, Tebow Keeps Eye on Big Picture...

Rough Night  in Foxborough
It was bound to happen.

Despite an emotional and stirring locker room pep talk Saturday morning, where his teammates gave him a standing ovation, David could not defeat Goliath.

Tim Tebow and the overachieving Denver Broncos could not withstand the offensive barrage and defensive prowess of one of the best teams in pro football; the New England Patriots.

The lesser team was slaughtered by a 45 to 10 margin.

And, thus the Cinderella dream was shattered, and, with it, the hopes were dashed of millions of fans, who rooted for the underdog leader of the underdog team.

And thus, the Bill Mahers of the world, and all the doubters and the I-told-you-so wannabe experts could begin to gloat and celebrate (although you can argue, they started in the second quarter!).

As I watched Tebow's press conference in the early morning hours on Sunday, after his Broncos' futile effort against the obviously superior Patriots team, he was asked something about what this beating meant for his faith.

In typical Tebow fashion, he said his faith was not dependent on winning and losing; that wasn’t that important.  For him, the important thing is whether in winning or losing he gave God the glory. 

The kid always seems to say the right thing, which, unfortunately, is one of the reasons he is despised by many. He was looking at the big picture.

As I thought about the game and his post game commentary, I couldn't help but think of a recent discussion I had with friends.

Last week, during our men's group meeting, we talked about the failures and turning points in life, which sometimes appear to be monumental in scope on the surface, and many times, as we look back, turn out to be blessings.

There's a song that one of my friends introduced to many of us several months ago, titled This, by Darius Rucker, better known as Hootie (of Hootie & the Blowfish fame), who by the way, is now a Country Music star, that puts it into perspective.

The song is about a guy who wakes up with his baby daughter in his bed and the woman he loves in his arms and he gives thanks for all the twists and turns, rejections, heartbreaks, all the plans that didn't come true, all the fights, tears and heartaches that he suffered, that led him to this moment in time.

The point is that through our skewed and limited perspective, we usually can’t understand the pain, trials and challenges that we have to occasionally endure because we can’t see the big picture.

It's like the Israelite in the Old Testament reading from last week. They were getting pummeled by the Philistines, who massacred about four thousand men on the battlefield.

In an effort to turn the tide against the more powerful army, the Israelites make the call to the bullpen (well, sort of).  They decide to have the Ark of the Covenant, which was commissioned by God and contained the tablets with the Ten Commandments, lead them into battle.

With God in their midst, they would overcome their adversaries, or so they thought.

In fact, upon hearing that the ark was in the Israelite camp, the Philistines were frightened, and so they were more resolved as they  braced for the fierce battle.  

When the two armies re-converged in the battlefield, not only did the Philistines proved victorious and slaughtered thirty thousand Israeli soldiers but they captured the Ark of God.

When the smoke had clear, there was much despair, pain and sorrow. The brutal bloodbath had dashed the hopes of the Israeli army. Questions, uncertainty and doubt arose, as some lost faith. Did God abandon them? Why would he allow his chosen people to suffer such a great defeat? From their limited vantage, they couldn’t see the big picture. They were too busy wallowing in their sorrow.

It is only in subsequent pages (and many years later), that we read about Israel's rally behind David, the Goliath slayer, to ultimately defeat the Philistines. The big picture was finally revealed.

I have always lived a blessed life. Aside from my divorce and my wife’s miscarriage of our third child, as a friend of mine used to say, "The worst thing to happen to me, happened to people close to me."

But, like all trials that God puts us through, they are very difficult at the time.

Yet, if it wasn’t for my divorce, and several months later my wife’s wedding being called off, we probably wouldn’t have met on that random Saturday night, in that random place, where I was randomly with a former co-worker that knew my wife, and we wouldn’t have said hello, and wouldn’t have fallen in love or had our three kids.  Only now do we know nothing was random.

And, if it wasn’t for the miscarriage of our third child, we may have never had our fourth, who is now our four-year-old son and the apple of my wife, our daughters and my eyes. The big picture is being slowly revealed.

The Christian story is one of apparent defeat, suffering, death and despair. Yet, it is through that pain that we are drawn into the depths of the human condition only to rise again from the bowels of hopelessness to the glory and victory of our faith.

As Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said, “Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.”

Tim Tebow said it well.  In the end, it's not about the Broncos and Patriots. It's not about winning and losing on or off the field. It’s about enduring through faith; the good days and bad, the rainy days and the sunny ones, because it's about the big picture.  It's about finishing the ultimate race.

Although, the full image is not yet revealed in our life, and we'll never see what the future holds, no matter how many fortune tellers we give our money to (and this is just a joke, I'm not advocating that anyone seek a fortune teller!), we can hope, in the certainty that only faith provides, that the big picture will be greater than we could ever imagine.  And, it usually is...

[pic credit:  Adam Hunger/Reuters]

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