As water reflects the face,
so one’s life reflects the heart.
Proverbs 27:19 ( NIV )
Tim Tebow was just in the news for two things: 1) local pastors say he actually lives his faith when no one’s looking and 2) he just injured his hand and will miss the rest of the baseball season.
I’m interested in the fact that it’s newsworthy that Tim Tebow lives his faith in private, just like he does in public.
Some of you are thinking, Tim who? I’m not sporty, so I’ll put it in terms people who don’t know about Tim can grasp: he was a big deal football player ( quarterback) in college (2007 Heisman Trophy winner while playing for the Gators) and made a great start in the NFL only to have a series of not so good experiences involving getting cut from teams, perhaps due to inconsistent playing- he’d do something spectacular and then have a series of fumbles. He’s 30 now and has been playing baseball for the Mets- in the minors in Binghampton, NY. – not the Mets.
So, how does Tim Tebow live his faith and why does it matter to me as an Orthodox person?
Tim’s last name became a verb- Tebowing- because he prayed.
People noticed that Tim would take a knee on the football field and pray. This became a fad for while where people would take photos of themselves or others praying on a knee. Some were mocking Tim’s prayers, others were silly, but many people were encouraged by his public prayer and this gave them the boldness to pray too. Here is how Tim himself defines Tebowing:
– to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different.
Looking at images of Tebowing, I thought of this icon of Saint Seraphim of Serov. In the icon, the saint is kneeing humbling before an icon, praying.
Saint Seraphim said, “We must let the Holy Spirit into our hearts. Everything good that we are doing for Christ’s sake renders us the Holy Spirit, but most of all it is achieved through a prayer, which is always in our hands.”
Saint Seraphim reminds us that we can Tebow, or pray even when no one else is, wherever we are, and that everything good is achieved through the Holy Spirit working through our prayers.
Through Tim’s eye black, John 3:16 went viral.
In a championship football game, while playing for the Gators, Tim wrote John 3:16 in his eye black. Just doing that, having the verse in the black paint under his eyes, generated 94 million Google searches for John 3:16. That day, John 3:16 went viral.
When Tim was in the NFL, they created a rule stopping players from writing anything in their eye black. This rule, informally called the Tim Tebow rule, didn’t stop the message of John 3:16 from getting out and you can hear Tim describe how here.
Tim Tebow shares his faith in many ways. He prays, he shares scripture, he’s involved with many charities, and when he breaks a bone in his hand and can’t play baseball for the rest of the season, he trusts God. In what ways can the rest of us follow his example of living our faith in private the way we do in public?
A friend recently told us he was impressed with our teenage son because when they ate a meal out, our son prayed silently and crossed himself before eating- just as he always does at home. A quiet prayer before eating is a simple way to live your faith. Praying before a meal is a subtle form of Tebowing.
Like the way Tim Tebow wrote John 3:16 on his face, we can have scripture verses in our hearts and minds and write them on our hearts by listening to scriptures read in church, reading our Bibles at home, and meditating upon God’s word.
The fact that living his faith authentically was newsworthy about Tim Tebow is cringe-worthy because this shouldn’t be unusual among Christians. God is real, our faith should be real, and our lives should reflect this all the time. People around us should know that we are Christians, that Christ is the Son of God who came into the world to save sinners, and that He has come to save all of us.
Let’s remember the example of so many saints, of Christ Himself, and strive to live as Christians, even if everyone else is doing something different.
Let our lives reflect our hearts, and let our hearts be filled with the glory and love of God.