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My girls tease me about this now, but I’m always looking for valuable messages or correlations with my faith when I watch movies. It’s just how my brain works. Most movies have a “moral of the story,” or we might relate to a character’s struggle, or be reminded of important truths like self-sacrifice, friendship, doing what’s right in the face of danger, etc. You may laugh, but I was so convicted of over-protective parenting when I saw Finding Nemo for the first time.

After seeing a film, I used to ask the girls what lessons or messages they saw. Gotta take advantage of those teachable moments right?  When we watched “Napoleon Dynamite” I remember my youngest saying as the end credits were rolling, “Mom, I don’t think there were any lessons in that one.” I laughed and had to agree.

When we saw “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” with my grown-up kids during Christmas this past year, I promised I would refrain from asking them afterwards what they learned. I bet they still saw some life lessons in there!  And I have to admit, I’m sure as a grandma I’ll be watching for those teachable moments in stories.

I think a director would be pleased if he or she knew their movie helped encourage you or made you want to do better in some area of your life. Stories are powerful in that way. They help us relate and connect. Jesus told lots of them.

We watched the movie “Creed” last weekend. I don’t know if you’re a Rocky fan but he’s been a big deal at our house for a long time. My husband is a loyal fan. We’ve seen all the movies multiple times.  (There may be some spoilers from here on, in case you haven’t seen the movie yet and care about that)

It’s important to know that one of Rocky’s opponents who became a close friend, Apollo Creed, was killed by another boxer in a fight. “Creed” introduces us to Apollo’s son, Adonis, now a young adult, who has boxing in his blood like his dad. He leaves a rising business career to pursue fighting, and knowing his dad’s story and famous friendship with the “Italian Stallion,” goes to Philadelphia to find Rocky and convince him to be his trainer.

img_0060  Fast forward through some great moments and relationship building to the end of the film. Adonis is ready to enter the arena for a big fight with the #1 fighter in the world. He doesn’t have as much experience as his opponent and mostly was invited to fight because of his famous legacy and name. As he walks from the locker room, through the dark hallway and into the arena filled with a huge booing, chanting crowd, Rocky, who has become not just a trainer but a friend, walks right with him, his hand on his shoulder the whole way to the ring.

Each time Adonis sits on his stool for a quick breather and to get his wounds tended to, Rocky’s in his face giving advice, firing him up, keeping him focused and ready to step back in to the next round. If you’re a newbie in boxing, there’d be no better guy in your corner than one who’s been there many times, who’s faced insurmountable odds, who’s pushed himself past what he thought he could be to be a champion.

You may have guessed, but while I watched Rocky walking with Adonis, his reassuring hand on his shoulder, I thought of Jesus. If you’re thinking that’s slightly cheesy, bear with me. That scene encouraged me and reminded me: if you know Jesus, you have the absolute best in your corner. He’s been there, He’s faced unthinkable pressure and pain, He kept his eyes on the goal and won. He doesn’t just teach you or tell you where to go, He goes with you, hand on your shoulder all the way.

Psalm 23:4 “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.”

“This High Priest of ours (Jesus) understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same tastings we do, yet he did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15

“Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Jesus. Matthew 28:20

I could quote scripture after scripture about how God promises to be near, show us the way, teach us, help us grow, and ultimately give us victory. We just tend to forget He is there: our trainer, our Savior, our role model, our friend.

For Adonis, no one could be better than Rocky in his corner. Don’t forget who is in yours.

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