Finishing Strong

I generally don't spend much time following professional sports. But in the last few months it would be difficult for anyone not to have heard something about Tim Tebow.

As you see him kneeling along the sidelines of the football field pointing toward heaven, you can't help wondering exactly what he is praying about. Is he praying to win? Is he praying for safety? Is he praying that he and his team will do their best? I don't know.

Recently I was in an airport bookstore where Tebow's book, Through My Eyes, was prominently displayed. I bought it and found it refreshing to read about an athlete who unabashedly and unapologetically loves God and talks about it with ease at every opportunity.

I'm not going to suggest that all Christians should follow his example of painting a Bible verse under their eyes, but interestingly enough, after Tebow's small but bold witness was seen on national television — with that little "John 3:16" painted under his eyes — 94 million people did a Google search to find out about that Bible text. Amazing. Amazing too that in our so-called Christian nation, there were 94 million who needed to look up the most familiar text in Scripture. Think how long it would take and how expensive it would be to distribute 94 million pieces of evangelistic literature.

What I am suggesting is that we might take a lesson from this young Christian who seemingly uses every opportunity his position affords to speak a word for the Lord. Could we not do the same?

Tebow exhibits no embarrassment in expressing his need of God or in giving Him credit in times of success. What about you? What about me? Do we find it a natural, automatic response to go to God in prayer ... to credit Him for blessings ... to ask His help?

Something else I learned about Tebow: He is often brought into the game near the end. He has the ability to energize and lead the team to a strong finish.

In one particular game after the final touchdown, Tebow remembers the coach's exuberance: "Atta boy. Great job. You finished. I love you."

"It was a great feeling to hear those words and to know I'd finished well," Tebow said.

So, how does this relate to us? Numerous "morals to the story" might be drawn, but this is the way I see it. We're close to the end of the game. Maybe you've been sitting on the sidelines waiting for the right time to get involved. I believe it's time. The team needs you. Your fresh perspective, your talents and energy and ideas and abilities might just have the Tebow effect — infusing new energy into a tired team and helping to carry the ones who are growing weary to a victorious finish.

We might have had a bad first, second or even third quarter, but it's not over yet. There's still hope for the fourth quarter. We can finish strong and succeed. It all depends on our connection with the One who drafted the game plan — the One who knows the end from the beginning. He has a plan for you — a plan for good and a plan to make sure you're on the winning team. The Bible tells us what the finishers will hear at the heavenly goal post: "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21).

Will you be there? Will there be others there because you were not ashamed of the gospel of Christ? The impact of one person has amazing mathematical potential!

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12: 1–2, NIV).

May 01, 2012 / Editorial

Max Torkelsen II, North Pacific Union Conference president