It’s true, isn’t it, that our best laid plans often go astray? Just looking back over this past week, I’m struck by how events have unfolded. Life is full of surprises! To be sure, we anticipated there would be interest in our first-ever Super Bowl commercial featuring Pam and Tim Tebow. If not, we wouldn’t have done it. But never in our wildest dreams did we think it would become the most “buzzed”-about spot leading up to the big game.
Some media experts called it a “brilliant” marketing strategy. Trust me; we’re not that good.
Of course, I’m grateful for a talented staff and the cooperation of the Tebow family, not to mention the generosity of twelve ministry friends who funded the project. But after all is said and done, it’s clear the Lord decided to use the ad a bit differently than how we originally planned. And we couldn’t be more pleased.
At the beginning of last week, I thought I had a general idea how the next seven days would go. In the end, the week was a blur and barely resembled my initial vision of it. Let me give you a few examples.
We spent hours with reporters and television hosts talking about the so-called “controversial” commercial. The phone never stopped ringing! Based on an official measure of “earned media” publicity, Focus on the Family received an estimated $10 million in advertising value—just in the days leading up to Super Bowl Sunday. That’s even before the game began. Honestly, I never saw it coming.
Several months ago my family and I were invited to witness the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Liftoff was scheduled for 4:30 A.M. on Sunday, February 7th. At the time, I didn’t even realize it was Super Bowl Sunday, but the Focus ad was still just a dream I wasn’t sure would actually happen. So, given our love of the space program, we jumped at the chance to go to the Kennedy Space Center. Who wouldn’t? The boys were ecstatic! So were Jean and I.
The timing and convergence of the ad placement and subsequent controversy, along with a couple of free tickets to the game and the launch of the shuttle seemed like a happy coincidence. Since Endeavour was scheduled for the early morning and the game was at night, I figured we could swing both events. The perfect day! Bad assumption.
As often happens, minutes before liftoff, the launch was scrubbed. Bad weather. We had been up all night, counting down, but to no avail. We were so disappointed, but were told the launch had been rescheduled for Monday morning, same time. Troy, my seven year old, said it well. “It keeps the astronauts safer.”
I was proud of him for not being too upset, especially since I was let down. Normally a change in the schedule would have been O.K. for us, but there was no chance I could go to the game and still make it to the launch. Troy had just taught me a lesson on what is really important. It’s not about me!
What to do? I was suddenly presented with a dilemma.
Since I didn’t have enough football tickets for the family, it had been previously decided that I would go to the game with a colleague. The kids didn’t mind. Watching the game with mom in a hotel room full of snacks is still a pretty sweet option. But now, I had to decide whether I would skip the launch and go to the game or skip the game and go to the launch, which was still “iffy” given the weather.
I thought to myself: Two of my passions in life . . . football and outer space colliding on Super Bowl Sunday. A man should not have to face such choices. I chose to give my ticket away. Am I ever glad I did!
The memory of being bundled up out at NASA with Jean and Trent and Troy is something I’ll never forget. The early morning liftoff, just before dawn, was picture perfect. With the roar of the rockets and the flash of the fire, night became day. And I saw in the eyes of my boys a sense of wonder rarely seen anywhere else.
I made the right call. Besides, they know they’re more important to me than the Super Bowl.
Let’s not forget to pray for those brave astronauts who are currently orbiting the earth, even as I write. I’ll admit it. I’m tired. It’s been quite a week, and it hasn’t gone as well as I planned it. It’s gone better. Whatever you’re dealing with, especially if it’s the burden of the weight of your own expectations, I would encourage you to let it go. Even when we sleep, God is awake. He is in control.
And His plans are far better than ours.
[Photo courtesy: NASA/Kenny Allen]