Sunday, August 15, 2010

Walk by Faith: Tebow and Glen Coffee

It is interesting to note that one of the most outspoken Christians in today's society, and in American pop culture, begins his pro-football career today one day after turning 23 years old. In contrast Glen Coffee, former Alabama and 49ers running back, has decided to retire from the NFL, at 23, for reasons of faith.

Coffee had been "wrestling" with the decision for a while, he said in a Saturday interview. He said he came to the conclusion that God had another plan for him other than football, and leaving the sport "was just me doing what I should have done a long time ago."

"I feel like it's His will," Coffee said. "It's something that I really felt like I shouldn't have entered the NFL in the first place. I don't know what call God has for my life, but it wasn't football. ... I'll be happier, not necessarily because I'm without football, but because I'm letting Him do his work. Whether it was leaving football or leaving something else, another job, it doesn't matter. I'll be happy because I'm following His will."

Coffee's next step, he said, will be a return to the University of Alabama to finish work on his undergraduate degree before possibly beginning graduate school.

In many ways, Coffee feels his path away from football began while he was at Alabama. In the midst of his Crimson Tide career, he found Christianity and embraced it. He was baptized during the 2007 season, and soon after began accepting speaking engagements to spread his faith.

Religion eventually spurred his decision to leave pro football, he said.

"A lot of people aren't going to understand and realize because they don't have the wisdom to understand," Coffee said. "Their eyes aren't open like mine are open. True happiness is glorifying God and glorifying Christ. That's what true happiness is. ... And for me, that wasn't the NFL. That wasn't where I needed to be."

Coffee seems likely to enter the ministry or a similar career in the religious field, but said he won't force it.

Is it easier to be a Christian in the professional world, playing a game you love, with mounting accolades, fame and fortune? Or is it easier to walk away from it all and follow what you believe? Neither. We are each called to be our own person. What is easy, or even best, for one is not for another.

Whatever it is that you believe God to have put in your heart, dare to believe it. Dare to follow that path and not the path others have chosen for you. Many Christians believe that Tebow should not play in the NFL, much like Coffee has decided to do. They believe that as a Christian he should serve in ministry and not be a professional athlete. Conversely, many Christians and non-believers no doubt think that Coffee's decision is foolish. Why else walk away from fame, riches, and sports glory?

The thing that generally separates people of faith from most atheists and some agnostics is the issue of purpose. We all want to believe or even know that we have a purpose in this life and that we can achieve it. Follow the example of both these young men today and go after yours!
Again, dare to follow after God and seek the desires of your heart. It will make all the difference.

So, our choice of eye black verse for Tebow's opener today, the Broncos against the Bengals, is Psalm 20:4:

May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed

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