I was there, as millions of others were, when Tim Tebow threw the 80-yard touchdown that closed the shortest overtime in NFL history on the night of January 8, 2012. After an intensely passionate game of two quick Denver touchdowns in the first half and a Pittsburgh Steelers comeback in the second, Tebow worked his magic to win the game.
Critics have longtime doubted Tebow’s playing ability — despite his being one of history’s finest college quarterbacks to come into the NFL. His passion for Christ scared too many in the media and in America, causing his name to be a touchstone for conservatism and faith. He won game after game in the regular season, silencing critics for a while under ecstatic cheers of “Tebow Time!” Then came three straight losses, with which Tebow and the Broncos closed the season. The criticism resumed, up to the point of doubt Tebow would return as a starter next season.
But they seemed to purposefully forget Tebow’s incredible ability up to that point: He had transformed the Broncos from a failing team to one that had entered the playoffs. He injected a sense of passion, purpose, and work ethic into his teammates. The media had forgotten the values of a soul leaning on Christ can bring. He is a first-time starter quarterback who carried his team to the playoffs.
Before this monumental playoffs game, Tebow was despondent. He watched his alma mater win a bowl game with not so much as a cheer. Yet as the January 8, 2012, game neared and official practice began, his spirit revived. No doubt he did some soul-searching and came to the conclusion that criticism is there to motivate you, critics of you and your faith exist to be defied.
I believe God used this gifted man for His glory. His tremendous college career brought attention to his faith. His NFL drama displayed the reaction to his shamless Christianity. His consecutive wins increased his fame. And I believe his three losses humbled him and brought him back to his humble beginnings and complete trust in the Omnipotent.
Critics should be ashamed of themselves. Denver journalists should realize how unfair they have been in their hasty assessment of an (honestly) rookie quarterback. The CBS announcers had no choice but to “Tebow” after the game: Honestly, there was nothing left to say, but accept his skill and victory.
I cheered like nothing I’ve done before when I watched Demaryius Thomas catch and fly with the winning touchdown. But I can cheer all the greater for the shining example God set up in the world for His glory. Tebow is just like any other man and Christian, learning about God and interacting with his Saviour. He is not perfect. Like all of us, he learns and grows. But he is certainly most blessed by his position in the world to proclaim the Lord’s truth to all the world.