Monday, July 3, 2017

Saying Grace

From August 2011.
We still pray Godspeed to you and to Timmy in all his endeavors.

Just out of curiosity, do you bless your food before you eat?    Do you say a "blessing" over your meal?  Or do you "say grace"?  And why do Christians bless their food before eating?  Is there a Biblical precedent for it, or is it merely a tradition?  We'll get back to this shortly.

Quite a number of readers emailed throughout this past week regarding Gregg Doyel's piece in which he claimed that Tebow's definition of "faith" amounted to "blasphemy."  You can read Doyel's piece here and make up your own mind.  Having said that, we'll say up front that we agree with much of what Doyel wrote with the primary exception of his use or definition of the word "blasphemy."  

Various news outlets, both Christiansecular, and sports related, have all chimed in and reported on the piece and Doyel published various responses to it, strongly for and against his point of view here.  And they are more vehement than either Skip Bayless' praise of Tebow or Merril Hoge's criticism.

We decided to not comment on the piece because we've already expressed our views on what it means to be a Christian, as well as coping with trials and even tragedy, and didn't want to retread on the subject.  But after hearing Doyel explain his comments on Mike Bianchi's radio show on Wednesday, we realized that this was about something different, and that is the question of "what is the purpose of a person's life?' and "can you know God's purpose for your life?"

The crux of Doyel's argument is that he thinks Tebow believes that if he works hard enough, prays enough, etc., that God will ultimately reward his efforts by making him a starting QB.  Doyel disagrees with this premise based on the definition of faith that Tebow gave in his book:

"Faith is like a muscle," Tebow wrote in Through My Eyes. "You trust God for the small things and when He comes through, your muscle grows. This enables you to trust God for the bigger things, in fact, all things."
When He comes through?
What about the times when He doesn't?
It happens. A child is sick, parents pray, and still the child dies. A tornado is coming, people pray, and still they are left homeless. God's plan is mysterious, as we say. 

But Doyel seems to have missed Tebow's interview with Kenny Mayne in 2009.  Mayne did ask Tebow about this scenario specifically.

KM: Do you believe God controls every detail? Or did He set things up perfectly and give the world a spin, and now we're on our own?

TT: The way I figure is if nothing bad ever ­happened, there wouldn't be a need for faith. The Bible says we're tested and made stronger through trials and tribulations. But He's here, helping us out.

KM: What I mean is that there could be a person in the hospital who is going to die of cancer, and down the hall, someone who is going to beat it. I find it hard to believe that God would say, "All right, you, you get to die. And you, you get to live." Do you think that's true?

TT: God has a plan for everything. Some people might say, "Well my plan's not as good as this person's plan." But in God's eyes, it is. Not ­everybody's called upon to do the same thing or to be here on Earth the same amount of time. It's like the Body of Christ. Not everybody's going to be the eye or the mouth. Somebody has to be the foot. I'm not saying that's anything less. In fact, in God's eyes it's the same. You just have to look at what He called on you to do and do it to the best of your ability. You can't question why, because then you won't have the faith you should.

So if Tebow is correct, Christians comprise the body of Christ, and as the different parts of the "body" we all have a different role to play on behalf of a greater whole or purpose.  To extend this analogy, Tebow may be called to be a QB and play the game he loves while someone else may be called to fight and defend our nation in Afghanistan and even make the ultimate sacrifice as part of that "calling."  This is exactly what Doyel objected to on Bianchi's show and what caused us to think about  what "saying the blessing" before eating really means.

So as the body of Christ, i.e. as Christians, why do we say a "blessing" over our food before eating?  Is it merely a nice tradition or is it something more?  We think it is something much more.

Before he was crucified, Jesus at the last supper blessed the bread, broke it, and then gave it.
Mark 14:22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it. He broke the bread, gave it to them, and said, "Take this. This is my body."

Luke 22:19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."

 And after he had risen:
Luke 24:28-32  By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!”

As Christians, we believe that this is the pattern of the journey we take towards fulfilling our purpose; the blessing, the breaking, and the giving.  And we believe Tebow will endure the same.

To illustrate what we mean by the "blessing, breaking, and giving" we'd like to look at  a few examples.

Joseph (Genesis 37-50)
The Blessing:  Joseph was beloved by his father more than his 10 brothers and was given a coat of many colors.  He  had two separate dreams that his brothers, father, and mother would one day bow to him after becoming a great man.

The Breaking: Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers , who hated him, and languished in prison in Egypt for 13+ years before being called on to interpret Pharaoh's dreams.
The Giving: Joseph was made de facto ruler of Egypt and oversaw the storage of food for seven years to prepare for a coming famine.  He was ultimately reunited with his father and brothers and in one the greatest illustrations of forgiveness said, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Genesis 50:20)

Moses (Exodus 1-20)
The Blessing: Moses was saved as an infant from infanticide and was raised and lived in Pharaoh's household until he was 40.

The Breaking: Moses spent 40 years in exile in the desert after killing an Egyptian in an attempt to rescue a Hebrew slave from abuse by an Egyptian.

The Giving: God called Moses to deliver the Israelites out of slavery and led them to the promised land, while also receiving the 10 commandments, the law, and in some traditions, even writing the Torah.

Mary, the mother of Jesus

The Blessing: Mary was chosen to carry the Messiah, the Christ.  "And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." (Luke 1:28)

The Breaking: She was pregnant and unwed, an offense punishable by stoning.  She gave birth in a stable away from family and friends.  She and Joseph lived in exile in Egypt while Herod killed Jewish boys 2 years old and under, and lived with the stigma of being pregnant out of wedlock throughout her and Jesus' lives. Ultimately, she watched her son be crucified.

The Giving: She, along with Jesus' disciples and followers, continued to spread the "good news"  and despite persecution founded the early church.

And for an example that hits much closer to home...

Danny Wuerffel

The Blessing: In 1996 Danny won both the Heisman trophy and a National Championship at the University of Florida. He also became the hero and role model for the next generation of fans, including Tim Tebow.

The Breaking: After retiring from the NFL, with a less than stellar career, Danny turned down lucrative announcing/media work to join Desire Street Ministries in New Orleans to work with and on behalf of one of America's poorest neighborhoods and communities.  After helping build a school and medical clinic, Danny and his family lost everything in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Six years later, Desire Street Ministries has relocated to Atlanta, and has expanded its outreach to five urban communities across the Southeast.  As of this writing Danny is currently struggling to overcome a rare auto-immune disease, Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome, which can cause paralysis.

Gregg Doyel is correct when he writes that God doesn't always "come through."  Stated a different way, God doesn't always answer "yes" to all our prayers.  Sometimes the answer is "wait" or "no."  To believe that if you are a good person, a good Christian, will  somehow guarantee you an easy or "blessed" life free from pain and suffering isn't "blasphemy" but it is immature and misguided.  Jesus was pretty clear on the subject: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

And we're pretty sure Tebow knows this as well, because John 16:33 was the verse he wore on his eyeblack for the SEC Championship game that the Gators lost to Alabama.

Part of the "blessing" also seems to carry with it a "calling."  Abraham was told that he would be the father of many nations. Joseph had a dream that the sun, moon, and stars would bow down to him foretelling his future greatness.  Moses was spared and was raised in Pharaoh's household.  David was anointed the next king of Israel as a boy.  When you look at the lives of the great men and women in the Bible, they all have some sort of calling or promise that God had given them followed by a long season of testing and trials before the fulfillment or attainment of their calling, dream, or promise, and the hope of that promise is what sustained them until the end.

Only Tim Tebow can know the call of God on his life.  Maybe God has called him to be a quarterback in the NFL, and if he has, then it is most likely that Tebow will pass through  a time of breaking before he reaches that goal.  Unlike Kurt Warner and Drew Brees before him, Tebow won't have the luxury of near anonymity like they did as they struggled through the ranks of the NFL.  Instead, Tebow will continue to be the object of severe scrutiny along the way and that can in no way be easy.  It may in fact be part of his breaking. Whether Tebow's journey ends like Drew Brees', Kurt Warner's,  Danny Wuerffel's, or even  Doyel's friend who died in obedience to his call to duty, only time will tell.

Next time you sit down to eat, take a minute and think about what you are about to do before you bless your food.  Are you a part of the body of Christ?  And if so, are you willing to be "blessed" knowing that being "broken" and then "given" is to follow?  Are you willing to accept the challenge and call on your life and do it in remembrance of Him, and for His glory, even if it cost you everything as part of the process?

Apparently Tim Tebow is willing.  And, yes, we will all be witnesses to how God will ultimately choose to glorify himself through a lefty QB with a big dream and a pitcher's throwing motion.

Godspeed Tim. And may God continue to richly bless you.