In my favorite scene, Rocky (aka the "Italian Stallion") rises early at four o’clock in the morning on the first day of his training to prepare for the coming fight. He fumbles into his kitchenette, cracks open several eggs into a glass, and promptly drinks them down raw.
(Prior to this, all he had been seen consuming in the movie was beer and cigarettes. He has obviously committed to make some changes.) Thereafter, he dresses in his sweats and then heads out into the dark to go running.
As he steps outside of his little apartment, he first stretches in the cold weather, then trots down the lonely street into the dimly lit city. As his run unfolds, his initial reticence is overcome by a sense of enthusiasm for the task ahead. Soon enough, he is jogging passionately all through downtown Philadelphia.
As his run continues, however, the reality of what he is attempting to accomplish begins to set in. And by the time he reaches the iconic steps leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rocky has slowed down once again to a trot as he holds his side in pain.
He struggles on to the top, where he bends over in pain, gasping for air. He then limps down the steps and struggles back home, holding his aching side with every step he takes.
One cannot help but feel for Rocky at this point. The journey before him is daunting. And his first few steps have not gone well.
But what is great about the movie is that Rocky simply does not quit. As painful as it is, he doggedly persists in his training; and as the movie unfolds, he becomes stronger and stronger with each passing day. Before long, we see his workout transitioning from merely jogging up these same steps to sprinting up them.
What he accomplishes in running is paralleled by similar triumphs in other areas of this training – push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups, etc…The result is that when the day of the fight finally arrives, Apollo Creed is simply not prepared for an opponent as fit and as determined as Rocky Balboa. What was supposed to be a three round bout turns into a fifteen round slugfest – an outcome no one expected.
And while Rocky loses the fight on a split decision, the movie ends with the crowd chanting for the underdog, Rocky, and the embarrassed champion, Creed, clearly confronting the reality that this no-name from no-where named Rocky Balboa is destined to have at least one more shot at him – which we see in the sequel, Rocky II.
And my point in all of this? I have spent several recent blog posts encouraging my readers to make resolutions for improving their lives, as is appropriate at this time of the year. I trust you have done so. I myself have as well.
Be advised, however, that these changes, once enumerated, will require dogged persistence on our part. After all, change of any sort is always difficult.
Have you declared some New Year’s Resolutions? Great! Have you actually begun to undertake the necessary steps to implement them? Wonderful! But what will you do when the proverbial alarm clock goes at four a.m. on a bitterly cold day?
What will you do when the morning’s nourishment consists of no more than raw eggs? What will you do when your side begins to ache and then to cramp?
Rocky Balboa, as we all know, went on to defeat Apollo Creed, and to win the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship in the sequel, Rocky II. But he did not win that fight in the ring alone. He won it when he kept on crawling out of bed on cold winter mornings, and when he kept on consuming raw eggs for breakfast, and when he kept on doing push-ups, and sit-ups, and chin-ups.
Likewise, you and I will have victory in our own chosen endeavors when we, too, doggedly persist in getting up, getting going, and getting done, each and every day, what we know we must do to reach our desired goals! It really is just that simple.
Pray for me as I myself pursue my chosen goals for the coming year. And I will pray for you in turn as you first commit to and then pursue the goals that God has given to you! And then, hopefully, we will each celebrate the crown of victory God has for us in the future.
I leave you with this statement of the Apostle Paul in his New Testament Letter to the Philippian Christians (chapter 3, verses 13 and 14):
13Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
ROCKY’S INITIAL RUN CAN BE VIEWED ON YOUTUBE AT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2TpAlCpWN8.
HIS SUCCESSIVE TRAINING, AS WELL AS THE ICONIC SPRINT UP THE MUSEUM STEPS (ALL SET TO THE THEME OF “GONNA FLY NOW”) CAN BE SEEN HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSmYAdiXb5M.
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: http://biblehub.com/philippians/3-14.htm.