With fresh eyes, I recently watched the 1976 classic movie, Rocky, starring Sylvester Stallone, only to be reminded of the many “David and Goliath” references throughout. Yet the thing I love about this movie is that the “giant” (in this case, Apollo Creed) doesn’t actually go down in this first battle, but the crowd cheers all the same. What I — and so many other fans — love about Rocky Balboa in this film is that his definition of success changes from a worldly view of winning a title to “going the distance” and finishing well. In the final scene of the movie, bloody and beat up, screaming for Adrian, his focus is only on knowing that he has persevered to the end.
I can’t help but recall Paul’s statement in 2 Tim. 4:7 that he has fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. Just as Rocky’s coach, Mickey, encouraged him to keep swinging, Paul shared his inspiring advice with Timothy to finish well. In this verse, Paul is coaching Timothy that although he can’t control the results, (which are up to God), he is responsible for controlling his demeanor in the battle. Likewise, we are to focus on our perseverance and character in the battle and leave the outcome to Him.
How often are we so quick to want the trials to end and the battle to be over? In the movie, there’s a scene in which Rocky is so beat up and swollen that he can barely see. Mickey says he’s going to tell the referee to call the fight, but Rocky insists on duking it out to the end.
I sometimes wonder if God is looking at us as we plead for Him to “call the fight” to end our suffering, but instead sees all the glory coming out as we just remain standing in the midst of it. Exodus 14:14 says, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (NIV). Perhaps we get so exhausted from thinking that it’s us doing the fighting that we forget that all we need to do is stand until the end. We don’t need to beg for the fight to be called. We don’t need to plead with God for a smaller opponent. We don’t need to go off to tend to our wounds in the corner. We just need to stand so God can work, fight for us as He’s promised, and show everyone in the audience who is actually in the ring.
If I have one more day, one more year, one more chance at living like I’m the fighter I claim to be for Christ, then today let me stand. Bloody, beat up, and worn beyond any power of my own, let me simply go the distance, because I know who’s waiting at the end.