“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows” Rocky Balboa
August 27, 2019
It’s hard not to be a fan of the Rocky movies. It’s the story of the underdog, a street kid from Philly, fighting against all the odds, to become the heavyweight boxing champion of the world, on a couple of occasions. In every movie, Rocky had a memorable quote. Never one to speak eloquently, he always seemed to get his point across as a student of the school of hard knocks.
Rocky understood something better than most people, life is hard, and if you let it, it will beat you down. In a scene from the “Rocky Balboa,” movie, from 2006, Rocky has come out of retirement to have an exhibition match with a much younger heavyweight champion. Rocky’s son, who is now in his 20’s is steadfastly against his father fighting in this match, not only will he not support him, but, he doesn’t want anything to do with him or the fight. One night Rocky’s son confronts his father outside his, Rocky’s, restaurant, and tells him, he’s tired of living in his father’s shadow.
Here is Rocky’s reply: (I did not do any corrections on his use words)
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that! I’m always gonna love you, no matter what. No matter what happens. You’re my son, and you’re my blood. You’re the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, you ain’t gonna have a life.”
You’ve got to be willing to take the hits. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.
Any of those words sound familiar? Even though Rocky left God out of the speech, although in the movies, he was a Catholic and very religious, his words remind me of Hebrews 12:1.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”
The writer of Hebrews is telling us we have a support system, a great cloud of witnesses. Those who were here before us. We need to shed everything that hinders us, sin, problems, illness, and keep moving forward. We as Christians need to keep at it and fulfill Christ’s instructions. To “Go,” and make disciples, to share the Gospel, to be servants to all. And even though many in the world will be contrary to our attitude and actions, we need to keep moving forward even in the face of adversity.
One of my favorite poems is called The Race. The author is unknown. I first saw it printed in, “A Second Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul, by Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen.”
I’d like to share it with you here:
“Quit! Give up! You’re beaten!” They shout out and plead. “There’s just too much against you now. This time you can’t succeed!” And as I start to hang my head In front of failures face, my downward fall is broken by the memory of a race.
And hope refills my weakened will as I recall that scene; for just the thought of that short race Rejuvenates my being. A children’s race-young boys, young men; how I remember well. Excitement, sure, but also fear; It wasn’t hard to tell. They all lined up so full of hope: Each thought to win that race. Or tie for first, or if not that, At least take second place.
And fathers watched from off the side, each cheering for his son. And each boy hoped to show his dad that he would be the one. The whistle blew and off they went! Young hearts and hopes afire. To win, to be the hero, there was each young boy’s desire.
And one boy in particular whose dad was in the crowd was running near the lead and thought, “My dad will be so proud.” But as he speeded down the field across a shallow dip, the little boy who thought to win, lost his step and slipped. Trying hard to catch himself His hands flew out to brace, And mid the laughter of the crowd He fell flat on his face. So down he fell and with him hope He couldn’t win it now – Embarrassed, sad, he only wished to disappear somehow.
But as he fell, his dad stood up and showed his anxious face, which to the boy so clearly said: “Get up and win the race!” He quickly rose, no damage done behind a bit, that’s all
And ran with all his mind and might to make up for his fall. So anxious to restore himself to catch up and to win His mind went faster than his legs; He slipped and fell again! He wished that he had quit before with only one disgrace. “I’m hopeless as a runner now; I shouldn’t try to race.” But in the laughing crowd, he searched and found his father’s face. That steady look which said again: “Get up and win the race!”
So he jumped up to try again. Ten yards behind the last – “If I’m to gain those years,” he thought, “I’ve got to move real fast.” Exerting everything he had, He gained eight or ten, but trying so hard to catch the lead He slipped and fell again! Defeat! He lay there silently, a tear dropped from his eye – “There’s no sense running anymore: Three strikes I’m out, why try?” The will to rise had disappeared. All hope had fled away; So far behind, so error-prone: A loser all the way. “I’ve lost, so what’s the use,” he thought. “I’ll live with my disgrace.” But then he thought about his dad who soon he’d have to face. “Get up,” an echo sounded low. “Get up and take your place. You were not meant for failure here. Get up and win the race.”
With borrowed will, “Get up.” it said, “You haven’t lost at all, for winning is not more than this: To rise each time you fall.” So up he rose to win once more, And with a new commit, He resolved that win or lose, At least he wouldn’t quit. So far behind the others now. The most he’d ever been – Still he gave it all he had and ran as though to win. Three times he’d fallen stumbling: Three times he’d rose again. Too far behind to hope to win He still ran to the end. They cheered the winning runner as he crossed first place, Head high and proud and happy; No falling, no disgrace.
But when the fallen youngster crossed the line, last place, the crowd gave him the greater cheer for finishing the race. And even though he came in last with head bowed low, unproud, you would have thought he won the Race to listen to the crowd. And to his dad, he sadly said, “I didn’t do so well.” “To me you won,” his father said. “You rose each time you fell.” And when things seem dark and hard and difficult to face, the memory of that little boy helps me in my race.
For all of life is like that race. With ups and downs and all. And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall. “Quit!” “Give up, you’re beaten!” They still shout in my face. But another voice within me says: “GET UP AND WIN THE RACE!” Author Unknown
That voice within telling us to never give up. God’s Holy Spirit encouraging us, guiding us, directing us.
And when we finish the race we call life, with all of its adversities and troubles, Rocky may have said, “Yo Adrian I did it,” while we remain silent and wait for those words of completion, “Well done good and faithful servant.”