Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday Challenge - Count the cost, and in all things give thanks

What a season this has been, and what a ride the last two seasons have been. One ending in a hard fought victory and a National Championship, and the second season a lesson in
perseverance in the face of adversity and the struggle to continue on in the face of defeat and loss.

Like the rest of the Gator Nation we heard last night the news that Coach Meyer was going to step down for health reasons, and we are still gathering our thoughts. But our thoughts and prayers go out to Coach Meyer, his family, his players and the Gator staff.

Two things stood out in the immediate wake of Coach Meyer's announcement; the first were a variety of recent blog posts about Christians thanking God when they win and not when they lose. We won't bother to link to them, because they say little more than that. The other thing that stood out was Nikki Meyer saying “I get my daddy back.”

First, we do believe that Tebow has expressed his faith in the face of adversity, thanking God for all things, not only after the concussion and after the loss in the SEC championship game, but throughout the season. Tebow's eye black verse for the LSU game, the game he returned from the concussion, was I Thessalonians 5:18: In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. It was not Psalm 23:4 (Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, because you are with me, I fear no harm.). Instead, of being funny or even trite, he chose to give thanks for the adversity, and did not wallow in self-pity. And he did this every week.

If you review the eye black verses week to week, they were not silly or amusing. They did not take clever swipes at the opposing team or boast of victories to come, but instead belied a deep sense of struggle and a yearning for life's greater meaning beyond the game and all the trappings of victory and fame.

Charleston Southern: Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight

Troy: Mark 8:36: What good does it do for people to win the whole world yet lose their lives?

Tennessee: Romans 8:28 "We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God-those whom he has called according to his plan."

Arkansas: Psalms 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Miss. State: Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Georgia: Philippians 4:6,7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Vandy: Colossians 3:23
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

South Carolina: Joshua 1:8-9 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

FIU: Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

Florida State: Hebrews 12: 1-2 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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

SECCG: John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."

You don't pray for courage because you are confident, you pray for it because you are afraid. You don't admonish someone to be "anxious for nothing" unless they are riddled with anxiety. You don't pray for peace, unless you need it. You don't remind yourself to give thanks in all things unless you are struggling with difficulties. You don't write on your eye black to work with all your heart and to do it for the Lord and not men, unless you have lost your focus. You don't ask for or receive forgiveness if no wrong has been done.

While we believe that Tebow chose Hebrews 12:1 and the "great cloud of witnesses" as an homage to the fans for his final home game, he did add verse 2. (Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.)

Knowing what we all know now, each of these verses take on a deeper meaning because of the specific context. Detractors of Tebow and the Gators believe his eye black verses to be a self serving "parlor game." But he was not wearing his heart on his sleeve, he was wearing it on his face. The weekly struggle was there to encourage him and others, and it seems now that few of us realized it in full. Tim Tebow wasn't proselytizing us, he was living out his faith before us.

On the surface it seems ironic that the verse for the Troy game at the beginning of the season should be Mark 8:36 (What good does it do for people to win the whole world yet lose their lives?) because it is the very reason Coach Meyer has chosen to step down.

When you compare Tim Tebow and his coach, there is one single contrast. Coach Meyer is a husband and a father. Tim Tebow is a single man. Their love and dedication to the game is intense and their dedication to being champions is equally as fierce. But what has been the cost? It seems to take a single minded devotion to football to remain competitive at the top level.

The struggle to balance both seems to have nearly cost Urban Meyer everything (Update: Urban Meyer to not step down, but to take a leave of absence) Earlier this year, when asked if he had a girlfriend, Tebow said “No time right now for a girlfriend.”

As UF searches for a new coach will they consider a single man for the top spot? Will Urban Meyer be able to remain and actually scale back while still being successful? Will Tim Tebow remain single in his devotion to football and the platform it gives him? Even though it is at times a controversial passage, there is merit to Paul's admonishment to those serving God to be single.

I Corinthians 7: 1-2, 6-7, 32-35
Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.

I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

We're all football fans, and it is an idle pastime for most of us. But what is the cost to players and coaches? What is the cost in terms of time? and time spent away from family? What is the cost to long term health, especially after career ending injuries and concussions? Is it possible to be a family man and still have one's priorities follow the order given by Tebow; God, family, academics, and football? and even if you remove academics?

We don't know, but count the cost in whatever it is that you pursue. And consider doing it fully unto God.

Mark 8:36: What good does it do for people to win the whole world yet lose their lives?

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