I am a Youth Leader of sorts. That is, I volunteer with our youth group at church. In July, our church made a controversial move by getting rid of our Youth Minister just prior to our big summer event “Teens Love Christ”, otherwise known as “TLC”. The new leader was already established and known in the church because he is the praise band leader and has had various other roles over the years. He charged all of us to read Adam Stanley and Stuart Hall’s book The Seven Checkpoints: Seven Principles Every Teenager Needs to Know, for Youth Leaders. 

I began reading it last summer, but it asks you to look up Bible verses and my Bible was in another room. I was too lazy to get up and get it, so it sat on my coffee table for seven months. It’s been on my mind, but with work and illness, I did not have the strength to take it on, because I knew I wanted to be able to soak in and retain the knowledge it would give me.  My preacher in elementary school once said when talking about our relationship with God, “There is no excuse.” There is no excuse good enough to explain away the things and reasons why we do not have a better relationship with our Creator after what He has done by sending His Son to die for our sins.

So, the book asks, “If you were to title the movie of your life today, what would it be and why?”

My favorite movie is Rudy. For those of you who have not seen it, you should. Sean Astin otherwise known as Sam in Lord of the Rings and Drew Barrymore’s brother in 50 First Dates plays Daniel Ruettiger: a real life American football player whose dream was to play at Notre Dame.

My dad graduated from Georgia Tech and Notre Dame was their arch rival. Growing up, I was allowed to root for Georgia Tech and whoever was playing Georgia and Notre Dame. In fact, when UGA and Notre Dame were in the Sugar Bowl in 1981, I was actually allowed to root for Georgia who you would think is Tech’s arch enemy! So, it is ironic that my favorite movie is about a Notre Dame football player.

I watched Rudy for the first time at a get-together for my friend’s church’s singles’ group. My friend met her husband in that group, so it was a good thing for several reasons.

In Rudy, Sean Astin so desperately wants to get into Notre Dame and play football. He has no real athletic ability and is “five foot nothing.” He was not a good student perhaps because he was diagnosed with dyslexia while attending Holy Cross College, a feeder school for Notre Dame.  But, Rudy had heart. The coach even talks about it to the other players in a speech he makes to them or another coach. I may have already talked about my favorite quote from the movie, but I will say it again.

Rudy: Maybe I haven’t prayed enough.

Father Cavanaugh: I don’t think that’s the problem. Praying is something we do in our time, the answers come in God’s time.

Rudy: If I’ve done everything I possibly can, can you help me?

Father Cavanaugh: Son, in thirty-five years of religious study, I’ve come up with only two hard, incontrovertible facts; there is a God, and, I’m not Him.

Sean Astin and Robert Prosky in Rudy

Rudy did finally make it into Notre Dame and realized his dream of playing football for them. His teammates made an amazing play so that he could have field time, and Rudy made an even more amazing  tackle (ironically) against Georgia Tech that caused Rudy to be carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates. Apparently, very few people have ever been carried off the field by Notre Dame players.

I guess the reason I like this movie so much, is while my life is good in many ways, I have had to overcome some adversity too. Daniel Ruettiger applied every semester to Notre Dame but was rejected every time. It came down to his very last chance as far as being able to transfer before he was accepted. I feel like I have to try things more than once. Sometimes two, three, and in the case of renewing my passport, it will be my forth try the next time I try.

Ruettiger never gave up and although his faith wavered for a moment, he did not let it stop him and he ended up making one of the most memorable plays in all football history. I am hoping I can someday make some great plays in the lives of young people.