Wow. Tim Tebow, the famously religious quarterback who kneels in prayer before, during and after games, led the Denver Broncos to another apparently miraculous win yesterday. And, as if the win itself weren’t dramatic enough, the football phenom passed for an astonishing 316 yards in ten throws. That would be 31.6 yards a throw. Does that number sound familiar? It should. It’s the verse from the Gospel of John (3:16) that Mr. Tebow had written on his “eye black,” the patch of paint under his eyes to cut glare. For those without your Bible handy that would be: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
All this raises the inevitable question, and one that I’ve been asked numerous times over the last few months: Is God answering Tim Tebow’s prayers?
Well, in good Jesuitical fashion the answer is: Yes, no, and I don’t know. First, the yes. Well, before the yes, let me say something else. Mr. Tebow is obviously a prayerful man and a faithful Christian. I admire him for his ebullient belief and his deep trust in God. So nothing I say in this piece is meant to disparage him or his faith. I genuinely like the guy, and I’m not even much of a Broncos fan. (Go Eagles?)
Okay. Back to the yes. Yes, God is hearing Mr. Tebow’s prayers. God hears everyone’s prayers, no matter who you are, just as Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, God causes to the rain to fall on the just and the unjust, and sends the sun to shine on the evil and the good. That part is easy to answer. And God is certainly helping Mr. Tebow in his life, as he helps anyone who asks for help. God is supporting Mr. Tebow with grace, that hard-to-define inner gift that was defined by one theologian as God’s “self-communication.”
But does believing in God mean that you’ll get what you want?