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Who is the Real Winner?

After reading the subject of this article, you may not realize that I’m not a dedicated sports fan. I enjoy a good game and like to cheer on the team of the moment, but I’m not committed to any athletic organization; and the most sports I watch on TV is when my husband begs me to watch the last 2 minutes of a football game with him (which may end up taking 15 minutes) or when he calls me in to replay the amazing play, Nascar crash, basket, etc., that I missed. I like to attend sports events to be with the people, and I love a Super Bowl party for the same reason.

Over the years I have become a fan of Tim Tebow—more because of his spirituality than his football competence (for those of you who don’t him, he is the senior quarterback for University of Florida). I will always cheer for Alabama in any college game because my husband is a graduate and worked for Bear Bryant in the football dorm his first three years of college. This is how I found myself watching the entire college championship games of the SEC—when Alabama played Florida and the National Championship Rose Bowl when they played Texas. Alabama was the victor in both games. Roll Tide! But (sorry, honey, it’s just how I see it) were they the winners?

The interviews of the two losing quarterbacks caused me to wonder if the score on the field told the whole story. It’s striking to see young men understanding deep spiritual truths in a way that I am just now grasping. The morning of the SEC championship when Florida and Alabama faced off was one of the first times a football game entered my devotion time. I was thinking about the game. I was born in Gainesville and most of my family are diehard fans. I know that Tim Tebow stayed at Florida his senior year, in part to win a second national championship for the state. He has been a standout gentleman during his career at Florida. I thought about the game and prayed for Tim Tebow as I have from time to time. It would be so easy to bring shame to the name of Christ that he has been lifting up (I’m sure he is high on the enemy’s list of people to torment), and I had the thought — It may not be God’s best for Tim Tebow that he wins this game today. Whatever happens, I know that it will be the best for Tim Tebow. Well, he didn’t win the game. He had the reference John 16:33 highlighted in his glare strip that day:

“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.”

Why didn’t God help him reach his goal? We don’t know, but we do know that God is always working His best in Tim Tebow’s life. During the National Championship game, the senior quarterback for the University of Texas, Colt McCoy, was injured early on and was unable to play the rest of the game. His words after the game both stunned me and made me proud. He said that he didn’t know why this happened this way during his last chance to play for Texas in such an important game but that he wasn’t going to question God, and He hopes God receives all the glory in it.

So you see why there is more to winning than victory on the playing field? I will also add that Alabama’s Heisman trophy winner (all three of these athletes were nominees) Mark Ingram offered a beautiful testimony of God’s work in his life during his memorable acceptance speech. These three young men are what this week’s devotion is all about. It is about winning whether you are the victor on the field or not. It is about sharing your love for God in a way that shows you know Him and believe in His goodness in the good times and bad. Let’s pray for these guys who will be under a lot of pressure to mess up. Pray the words Paul had for young Timothy, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12). May these and others bring glory to God. That is what true winning is all about.





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