I wept while reading again the diary, photos and videos about Zack McLeod, whom I’m privileged to know at church.
Three or so years ago Zack suffered a traumatic brain injury on a high-school football field. He’s still recovering but his speech hasn’t returned and he suffered damage to his cognitive and physical abilities; but he still has an unquenchable joy and love of Jesus Christ and other people.
You’ll have to take my word for it that Zack and his mom and dad are the most incredible, courageous, joyful, faith-filled people I’ve ever met. I don’t know the other siblings but I’m guessing they’re made of the same stuff. They’ve suffered in ways I can’t imagine, yet their faith in Christ and their love for others (the two most important markers of Christians: faith expressing itself in love) is humbling and challenging to experience.
Zack has always been a die-hard Denver Broncos fan. He later adopted the Patriots. So I’m guessing tomorrow may be a conflicting day for him! But he’ll be more excited to have been chosen by Tim Tebow’s W15H Foundation to meet Tebow before and after the playoffs on Saturday. We’re praying that it’ll be a great gift for Zack and joy for Zack and his family and friends.
Theological side note:
When Tebow thanks God for his abilities, he’s just doing what all of us – believers or non-believers – should do; be grateful for the gifts, dispositions and opportunities we’ve been given. You don’t believe he’s actually thinking God will intervene in the fourth quarter, or that God will trip the opposition to let him through, do you? I suspect Tebow would find that highly annoying! Going through all that agony and pressure only to have someone else do the final push and get the credit?!
Everyone knows – except 42% of Americans! – that a game outcome a) is not God’s primary concern, and b) is impossible to validate/deny as God’s doing. Thanking God, “giving him the glory” is not saying “it’s not me, God did it”. That’s not the kind of ‘credit’ one gives God. If it is, what’s the point of me? Tebow, or Brady, really are throwing that pass, and throwing it that well! It’s them, praise them! But not as though they’re God. Praise God for being God. He is the ultimate source, giver, lover, of all, and so he rightly receives the thanks and praise.
But God almost exclusively works through people, through his creation. God’s glory is shown, not in the gaps, not in the things-we-can’t-otherwise-explain, but through his creation doing what it does best and rightly; flowers flowering, seas roaring or lapping, creatures emerging, and humans doing what they can with what they have, with love*, faith and gratitude. The God of Jesus Christ also shows his glory, in an asymmetrical way, through suffering and death, and ultimately resurrection. That’s the uniqueness of Christianity, the way life is, and the way life seems to play out for most of us, including Zack McLeod.
If God has any impact on Tebow’s game it’ll be because his trust in God gives him courage. He knows that life is more than a performance or one game. That’s Tebow’s story, so it seems, from what I’ve read about him. And it’s Zack’s story. Let’s enjoy the game and give thanks and praise for what and to whom it is due.
Hmmm, that was a bit long for a side note.
Updates (some videos):
*Yes, I know, American football doesn’t exactly look like an expression of love, but that’s for another time!