Tim Tebow: we can all give hope, love

Tim Tebow

Posted: Saturday, April 9, 2016 9:30 pm

By Tom McNiff tom.mcniff@dailycommercial.com | 0 comments

Hard to believe, but Tim Tebow almost chose the University of Alabama over Florida.

Tebow, speaking Saturday night at a benefit for Mount Dora Christian Academy Children’s Home, recalled agonizing over his college choice as a senior in Jacksonville. He quickly eliminated USC from the contenders. Too far from home. And Michigan as well. “No pretty girls there,” he cracked.

The decision, inspired by his dad, came down to a question of the kind of people he wanted in his life. That person was Urban Meyer.

Tebow recalled calling then-Alabama Coach Mike Shula to break the news that he had chosen Florida and not Alabama. Tebow was emotional about his decision and cried during his chat with Shula.

“It wasn’t the last time Alabama made me cry,” he joked, referring to the Gators’ loss to the Crimson Tide in the 2009 SEC championship game.

Tebow next called Meyer, but the call dropped before he could tell the coach he was going to Florida. Over the next few minutes, he tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to get the coach back on the phone. He finally announced his decision to a live TV audience on ESPN.

As he left the ESPN set, Tebow remembers feeling terrible about his decision. He didn’t know why. He had prayed and prayed for guidance and didn’t get an answer. And then it occurred to him: “Just because God didn’t show me where I was supposed to go, it doesn’t mean the entire time he wasn’t leading me,” Tebow said. “It’s about walking by faith.”

That parable was one of many Tebow shared with a capacity crowd at the MDCA gymnasium. Sports, he said, is secondary to his faith, yet so many of his experiences in football served as metaphors for life and faith.

Tebow, whose devout faith explains his celebrity as much as his storied football career, said he has learned that being part of a good sports team “pales in comparison to being able to give hope to a single mother, being able to give love to an orphan” like Mount Dora Christian Academy does.

He told the story of meeting a crippled boy in the Philippines. The boy was asked to stay away from the gathering when Tebow and other American missionaries arrived because he “wasn’t impressive.”

Tebow recalled that being one of the turning points in his life. It was a moment he realized he was meant to minister to and fight for children like that.

“You might think, ‘how can I really make that much difference?'” he said. “I don’t have that much money, I don’t have that much fame, I don’t have that much power. You give what you can and watch what God does with it.

“You can be part of that team,” he exhorted the crowd, “because you are qualified. You have a talent. You have a resource. The question is, ‘what are you going to do with it?'”

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