This blog has always been a great place for me to “keep it real” with readers, to share honestly about my own struggles and shortcomings, and to openly work through my flaws. For example, if you missed my fantastic parenting fail from earlier this year, feel free to learn at my expense. Seriously, parents, it could save you a little heartache. Today I want to openly admit another flaw: I’m an absolute sucker for any movie involving Sylvester Stallone (can we all just agree that he’s one of our nation’s finest actors?) and the Rocky franchise. (Fun fact for you: I read an estimate that said the Rocky franchise, to date, has grossed 1.1 TRILLION -- that’s with a “T” -- dollars over it’s lifetime!) So when I saw that a new Rocky movie was coming out Thanksgiving Day, I was already fully convinced of two things: It will be the Movie of the Year AND, Sly will finally win an Academy Award.
Ok, probably neither of those things will be true, but c’mon...can you think of a better way to enjoy the after-Thanksgiving Day coma than to watch a Rocky movie? Exactly!
Whether you like Rocky or not, you should stick with this blog. (If you don’t, you can probably already answer the question in this blog title!) Because 1.1 trillion dollars doesn’t happen by accident.
The story of the first Rocky movie is pretty well known, and part of what made the Rocky movie such a glowing success. There’s a little fact, and certainly a little fiction involved, but overall the story incapsulates the American Dream.
Sylvester Stallone wrote the original Rocky script and wanted to see it produced in Hollywood. He shopped it to several studios, and a couple showed interest, but they didn’t like the one caveat that came with Sly’s proposal: he had to be the star of the movie. According to one report, he turned down $150,000 for the script because they refused to allow him the lead role.
Time passed, and Sylvester and his wife were near the end of their resources. Down to around $100 in his bank account and with his wife pregnant and no acting opportunities in sight, Stallone had to sell his beloved dog that he could no longer afford to feed. Near the ratty Hollywood apartments they lived in, he posted a sign at a bar, listing his dog for sale, for $100. He finally sold him for $50 to man named “Little Jimmy” (a dwarf).
One week later, Sly received word that a studio would take his movie and he would get to star in the Rocky lead role. The studio was willing to pay him $30,000 up front. He signed the contract, took the money and immediately went back to the bar to find Little Jimmy and his dog. After a few days of searching, several minutes of negotiating and multiple threats from Little Jimmy, Stallone bought his dog back...for $3,000! (He even gave Little Jimmy a cameo in the first movie.) His dog went on to star in the first two Rocky movies, though he passed away before Rocky 3 was filmed.
Stallone was absolutely relentless in pursuing his dream and he didn’t settle for less when he had the chance. Think about it: I wonder how many people would have happily taken $150,000 in his circumstances, and celebrated the sale of a screen play? Sure, they would have been wealthier but they would have compromised on their dream in order to do so. What would you have done? Down to your last $100, and no one seeing your dream with the same clarity or vision you have? Would you have settled?
The Apostle Paul had a dream to “know Christ more” and he was willing to give up everything else, in order to see that dream come true. In Philippians 3:8 he writes, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord...” Listen to his passion as he continues to describe his absolute commitment to the goal: “...for [His] sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ...I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection...”
Peter was passionate about helping others stand firm in their calling as children of God. In 2 Peter 1:12 he says, “So I will always remind you of these things [the Gospel and God’s divine power to produce righteousness in us], even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.” Look how committed he was as he continues to describe his passion for this goal: “I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body...And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things...” (2 Peter 1:14-15).
John was absolutely committed to proclaim the message of Jesus that he had witnessed with his own eyes, a message he believed would unite the brothers in fellowship with one-another in love, and in fellowship with their Creator and Savior. Read 1 John and see how his passion emerges over and over and over again!
Abraham was relentless in his pursuit of the promise God had given him, so much so, that he was willing to give up the very thing he prized most in order to see God’s Word fulfilled. David loved the house of the Lord, and spent the last years of his life preparing the raw materials needed so his son could build it. Esther trusted God’s ability to save her people so much, that she laid her very life on the line in a desperate attempt to see Him show up. An impoverished widow trusted God’s ability to provide for her needs, to the point she gave Him her last two pennies as a show of her faith. The list goes on and on and the question remains: how committed are you to what God has put on your heart to do?
Overboard Ministries exists to help believers live their God-designed lives, out of the comfort of the boat, and out on the water where Jesus is building His Kingdom. It’s a passion God has put into our hearts for years, and today we are embracing the challenges, testings and opportunities that come from stepping out in faith to see this dream become a reality. The dream of speaking to more students, the dream of inspiring couples to embrace an Overboard marriage, the dream of empowering believers to use their God-given gifts to reach the lost and the dream to lead others leaders into the pursuit of faith-based ministries and work is as strong as ever.
So are the challenges. And each day I have to answer the question, “How committed am I?”
Sylvester Stallone didn’t build a 1.1 trillion dollar franchise by merely showing up with a manuscript. He was relentlessly committed to seeing his dream realized. Paul gave up his life, prematurely, pursuing his goals, as did Peter and 11 of the 12 disciples of Christ. Abraham died not seeing his dream fulfilled but left the hope of legacy with his family. David gave Solomon everything needed to see the House of God built and Esther saved her people. They were all, absolutely committed to God’s work in their lives, and to the dreams and passions He had placed inside of them.
What do you need to add to your life (habits, disciplines, friendships...) to keep your dreams front and center? What distractions do you need to remove from your life (habits, disciplines, friendships...) to keep your dreams front and center?
How committed are you?
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!