By Gary Hardaway
After Denver’s spectacular overtime playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, some fans may be wondering if God is actually fixing games for Tim Tebow, Denver’s quarterback, who very publically celebrates his faith in Jesus Christ. However, you’ll never hear Tebow himself claim that. In fact he constantly has to deny and correct that distorted view of God. The question remains, how did Denver pull it off?
A lot of factors made the difference. Pittsburgh suffered major injuries on both sides of the ball. Steeler QB, Ben Roethlisberger, came into the game with a gimpy foot and had to hobble around in the backfield most of the time. Even so, he led a 14 p0int comeback that tied the game and sent it in to overtime.
Certainly Tim Tebow deserves special mention. He’s big and strong and fast, very hard to sack, able to break tackles, extend plays, and throw on the run. During the season he has developed more skill at reading defenses, quicker reflexes to changing situations through practice, film study, and experience. With more experience has come more confidence. As much as any pro (and more than many) he has always had miles and miles of heart – a tremendously competitive, never-say-die spirit.
The Denver coaching staff, especially the offensive coordinator, devised an outstanding game plan that utilized Tebow’s strengths and gifts. Both the coaches and general manager, John Elway, finally encouraged Tebow to play like he did in college, running, throwing, and improvising with abandon, without worrying about detailed instructions they had drummed in earlier in the season.
The final play, the 80-yard catch and run, was no lucky fluke. It was designed to place Ike Taylor, the cornerback in a precarious, almost lose-lose position. Taylor lined up a little to the outside of the receiver, Damaryius Thomas, expecting help to the inside. After the snap Tebow made an excellent play-action fake to the running back. The Steeler secondary, already sure the Broncos were going to run, rushed forward to stuff the “runner But there was no help.
Suddenly, immediately, Taylor and Thomas were running full speed down an empty field, exactly what the play was designed to produce. All Tebow had to do was zip the ball into the receiver’s hands, which he flawlessly did. The only remaining issue to be decided was who could win the footrace. Again, the coaching staff had chosen the right man. The speedy Thomas flew down the field with all jets blazing. It was the longest game-winning pass in playoff history and the shortest overtime ever – 11 seconds.
Some might suggest that God arranged all these variables to work in Denver’s favor. Some theologians believe God predetermines every event, every action, every movement of every atom in the universe. If so, we are all pawns being irresistibly moved by His mighty hand, with no choices.
Scripture, however, constantly emphasizes choice. Joshua told the nation of Israel, “Choose this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Tebow has chosen to serve the Lord as a football player. He takes his calling seriously. His Christian work ethic is best expressed in the New Testament:
Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to god the Father through Him… Whatever you do, work at it as unto the Lord, not for men.
God is not a good luck charm that makes success inevitable or easy. Tebow will win some and lose some. He may win the Super Bowl or he may get injured and have to retire after the next game. God often uses adversity, failure, and loss to develop his servants into better models of Christ. Regardless of future highs and lows, it looks like Tim Tebow is just the right guy in the right place, demonstrating to many millions a dynamic relationship with Christ.