"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."
These are the words of the bible verse that Tim Tebow wrote on his eye black. The verse wasn't always the same every time he stepped out onto the field, but the message he was sending never changed.
Faith is a huge part of Tebow's life and he had no problem sharing it with the world. From his eye black, to his touchdown celebration, to his postgame interviews Tebow let everyone know that he believed.
It seems that this is becoming a common theme in sports. Postgame interview after postgame interview on the biggest of stages and under the brightest of lights athletes consistently thank God for the role that He plays in their success.
My question is.. Do these athletes who showcase their faith tend to succeed because God actually influences their performance, or simply because they believed in God?
My answer... It doesn't matter.
These players succeed because they believed. They didn't just believe in God, they believed in themselves. They had the courage to fight for their dream and never let it die. God was their security blanket. Whether His presence was actually there helping them or not didn't matter. They believed He was on their side and that is enough. Enough to allow them to keep fighting when things got tough. Enough to allow them to wear their heart on their sleeve each and every time they stepped out onto that field, court, ice, etc.
None of us will ever truly know whether God cares about sports. But it doesn't matter. Believing in oneself is what is important. Having the courage to push on through hardships is important. Hard work is important. Having a dream is important. Believing in God allows for all of these things to happen. He gives us the confidence to never give up and to keeping working hard in pursuit of our dreams.
This is why these religious sports figures like Tebow, Russell Wilson, Allyson Felix, Tony Dungy and Mariano Rivera have turned their dreams into realities. They have all of these characteristics that lead to success. God may have helped them throughout their journeys, but they never would have "made it" if it wasn't for their own hard work and belief in themselves.
Let's go back to the Bible verse that Tebow scratches onto his eye black as a constant reminder that he is not alone...
"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13
Rivera, arguably the greatest closer in the history of baseball, had this very same verse etched into his baseball glove. The idea of God allows people to believe that they are never alone. Whether they are suffering through a workout with nobody else watching or under the bright lights pitching the 9th inning of a World Series, it allows them to believe that there is someone who is going to fight with them when they are about to quit or they feel as if they can't fight any longer. It doesn't seem like a coincidence to me that all of these players who believe in God find this great success.
Is God truly the reason for their success? I don't know.
But does it really matter?
Why not give it a shot? Why not believe in Him and yourself? Why not chase your dreams? Why not believe that God is going to be there to pick you up when you are struggling?
A friend posted a picture on Facebook of this excerpt and I just happened to come across it right as I got the idea to write this column. Josh McDowell once wrote:
"You can laugh at Christianity. You can mock and ridicule it. But it works. If you trust Christ, start watching your attitudes and actions-- Jesus Christ is in the business of changing lives."
You only get one life and the clock is ticking... Just believe.