Tim Tebow’s Big God

I’d be thrilled to have Tim Tebow as a son-in-law if my daughters weren’t spoken […]

Howie Espenshied / 12.8.16

I’d be thrilled to have Tim Tebow as a son-in-law if my daughters weren’t spoken for. Look at him, he’s pretty perfect. Listen to him, he’s pretty easy to like. At ESPN HQ in Bristol, Connecticut, word is that everyone who works there with him loves him. He’s a super nice, cute, likable dude. I’m a Harry Connick Jr. fan too–best American Idol judge of all-time, and I watched all the seasons. So, this little exchange should be “can’t miss,” correct? Actually, that would depend on your definition of “Big God.” Take a listen:

Did you catch all that? Tim Tebow wore “John 3:16” on his eye black as the QB for the University of Florida in the NCAA Championship Game (and 94 million+ people, or something, Googled John 3:16 that day). Then, 3 years later, to the day, in the NFL Playoff game against the Steelers, Tebow threw for 316 yards, had a 3.16 yard per rush average, and then there was some kind of 31.6 “rating” for the game.  I’ll assume that last part has something to do with Nielsen TV ratings. ALL. THOSE. THREE. SIXTEENS.

316Notice at the end, when asked about the coincidence surrounding all the three-sixteens, Tebow responds with “big God!”. I’d perhaps argue that God working some numbers to an amazing coincidence (if indeed, that’s what He’s doing here) goes more to His playfulness than His bigness. If Tebow had simply said, “fun God,” I’d agree, that’s pretty fun.

This is where word choice becomes important. God is “big” here because He orchestrated some sports stats to align with America’s favorite verse? Certainly Tebow is not the first or last celebrity to glorify God’s “bigness” by way of their own feats, but “big” here is always a poor choice of words. When we use stories like this to point to God’s bigness, we actually are accomplishing the opposite of our intention–reducing the God of the Universe and creator of all things to victory’s glorious side show.

Tebow doesn’t mean to do that, nor does he want to paint a God that’s only interested in winners–not at all. But that can certainly be what the world hears. What they’re not hearing is that God is big enough to handle their pain, their anger, their missteps, and their deepest longings. A big God might be bigger to make use of our littleness. But then again, if (and when) He ever does, it isn’t guaranteed to be viral material on Facebook.

For the record, I do think God has amazing senses of both timing and humor–the best! I like to think His humor resides more somewhere in that old story where some graffiti-tagger-philosopher-wannabe wrote “‘God is dead’ – Nietzsche,” to which a whimsical graffiti artist responded directly underneath with the tag, “‘Nietzsche is dead’ – God.” See, I think the God I believe in would think THAT is funny. As for the Tim Tebow coincidence above, I don’t know. I believe that God probably delights in coincidences like this–and He may, or may not, be the author of them. I know one thing for sure: His sense of humor is way more nuanced and inclusive than mine.

As for sense of timing, I think that’s where I struggle more here. If you prefer “Tebow Timing”, more power to ya I suppose, because the way all those numbers come together makes for a great Facebook post. Fortunately though, our God is actually big, and funny, and perfectly on point in language, tone, humor, timing, all of it. But if you want something more somewhere in between a “Madonna shaped Pringle” and an answer you would get if you asked a question to a certain, well known American know-it-all, just ask the jacket: