Tim Tebowwith A.J. Gregory. 2018. Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms. New York: Waterbrook.
Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra
Life can be a pill. The darkest twelve months of my life arose during 1992/93 when I experienced a layoff, my son was born with one kidney that quickly became blocked, and my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. My wife and I came through these events with the support of our church. In the midst of stress that tore apart other families that we know, I turned to God and later responded to a call to ministry.Stress has a way of clarifying priorities.
In his spiritual memoir, Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms, Tim Tebow writes:
“It’s tempting to define ourselves or measure our with by the external: by how much money we have, by how we look, by the applause of others. The list is long. It’s also tempting to determine our identity by our life circumstances…My identity is tied into whose I am.”(4)
The book’s title is taken from Psalm 16:8—“I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”
Who is Tim Tebow?
Tebow is not only a Christian; he is the son of missionaries, born in Manilla, Philippines (1987). Tebow currently plays professional baseball with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies,but is also a former NFL quarterback (Broncos, Jets, Patriots) and Heisman trophy winner (2007). It is probably safe to say that he is most proud of his charitable work with the Tim Tebow Foundation that reaches out to encourage children with life-threatening issues.
Because I do not follow sports, Tebow is one of the few living football players that I know by name and it is because of his willingness to pray publicly during athletic competition. As a consequence of the publicity that is associated with his open prayer, Google defines the word, Tebowing, “as the act of getting down on one knee to pray, regardless of what others around you are doing.”I suspect that no other living 30-year old has contributed a new word to the dictionary in this manner.
Tebow writes in ten chapters proceeded by an introduction and followed by acknowledgments and notes. The chapters are:
- Who Am I?
- Facing the Giants
- The Voices of Negativity
- God’s Got It
- The Others
- Who Said Normal is the Goal?
- Stand Up
- The Power of Doing Something
- What Matters Most(vii)
This is a book about encouragement and it starts by walking the reader through some of Tebow’s darkest days, when he lost his status as a professional quarterback in the NFL. These dark days framed his title: shaken.
“While this book doesn’t offer cookie-cutter answers or a concrete plan about what to do when you stand on shaky ground, it does offer you truth. One thing can change every: knowing who you are in God can give you purpose and reshape your destiny in incredible ways.”(6)
An old saw that pastors use sounds very similar: “I do not know a solution to your problem, but I know someone who does.” Spiritual advisors likewise specialize in pointing out God’s work in your life, something that is frequently not obvious when one is in pain or when we are not paying attention.
An example of God’s quiet work showed up when the world started to notice Tebow’s faith when he began using his eye-black to display Bible verses at University of Florida. He started with Philippians 4:13—“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” During the National Championship game in 2009, Tebow changed his eye-black to read, John 3:16—“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”Ninety-four million people Googled the verse during the course of the game. Three years later after the NFL passed a rule forbidding personalized eye-black messages, the Broncos public-relations guy reported:
“Do you know that it was exactly three years since you wrote’ John 3:16’? And during this game, you threw for 316 yards. Your yards per completion were 31.6. The time of possession was 31:06. The ratings for the night were 31.6 million. And during the game ninety million Googled ‘John 3:16’!”(154-156)
Do you think God noticed? For his part, Tebow focused on winning the game that night.
Tim Tebow’s Shaken is an encouraging book. He tells lots of stories about his own experiences, particularly from his sport’s career, and relates them directly to his faith, which is why I would describe the book as a spiritual memoir. I read this book as part of a men’s group discussion and the accompanying videos have been most helpful in generating discussion.
For those interested, I wrote about these events in my memoir, Called Along the Way(Centreville, VA: T2Pneuma Publishers LLC, 2017).
“Tim Tebow Is Kinda Good at Baseball: The ex-football star keeps plugging away in the minor leagues on the idea that he can one day get to the majors.” By Matthew Gutierrez, Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2018 (https://www.wsj.com/articles/tim-tebow-is-kinda-good-at-baseball-1526932242).
Tebow Encourages Those Shaken
Other ways to engage online:
Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.
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