I watched "Rocky IV" recently and couldn’t go to sleep. Strangely, I felt like going for a run up a mountain in knee deep snow with KGB limos following me!
Possibly the best of the seven films, Rocky’s determination to avenge the death of his friend Apollo Creed is aided by one of the most underrated characters in the film series: Duke Evers.
Originally Apollo’s trainer, Duke transitions to Rocky’s corner in "Rocky III" when he fights “Clubber” Lang (Mr. T.). After Apollo dies, he travels with Rocky to Siberia and provides some of the best lines in the film while in the ring with Drago:
“You have him hurt bad. You CUT him. You HURT him!! You see. He's not a machine. He's a MAN!! You want it more than he does! NO PAIN! NO PAIN! NO PAIN!
“There’s no stopping us now. This is our round. You start, and you don’t stop! ALL your strength, ALL your power, ALL your love. Everything you've got! Right now!”
"To win, you have to knock him out! You've gotta punch and punch and punch, 'till you can't punch no more! This is your whole life here. Do it now. NOW!"
I was thinking how I’d like to have Duke in my corner. Not just during a hard workout, but, you know, when I wake up in the morning. “Krista! Life is going to be tough today, but you got this! People are going to disappoint you, you’ll have to train on your own and it’s going to hurt. But, look! You cut the enemy this week! You hurt him! You start, and don’t stop today! Give it all your strength, all your power, and all your love! Remember, no pain! No pain! NO PAIN!
Then I realized I have someone better than Duke. I have the Holy Spirit! He is always in our corner, inspiring and empowering us to overcome the enemy’s hits. If you’re a believer, each day you step into the ring of fire, take hits, get knocked down, or worse, knocked out. You may be disappointed, misunderstood, lonely, discouraged or just worn out from the fight of faith.
But so was Jesus Christ. In fact, worse than we could ever imagine. He took the worst hits Satan could give to the point of suffering and death on the cross. But just when it looked like He was knocked out, He turned the tables, defeated death and rose again! The ultimate comeback!
Through his death, resurrection and ascension, we’re empowered to not only fight in the same ring, but to overcome and win. The Bible says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13). Why? So we can glorify all Jesus has done for us!
Tony Burton, who played Duke, passed away this week. As you read his training speech to Rocky below, I challenge you to hear God speaking to you about your part in keeping Jesus’ victory alive. It may take all your strength, all your power and all your love. But don’t forget, if you’ve given your life to Jesus, your Duke--the Holy Spirit--is in your corner! And so am I!
“Apollo was like my son. I raised him. And when he died a part of me died. But now you're the one. You're the one that's gonna keep his spirit alive. You're the one that's gonna make sure that he didn't die for nothing. Now you're gonna have to go through hell. Worse than any nightmare you ever dreamed. But in the end, when it’s over, I know you'll be the one standing. You know what you have to do. Do it. DO IT!” -Duke Evers, “Rocky IV”