At the Movies is a series we do every year where we explore the Biblical truths we find in Hollywood movies.  So break out the popcorn.  It’s going to be an adventure!


Introduction

Note to Leaders: Watching this video is optional, but it may help give context to people who have not seen the movie or were not able to be at church.

Rudy is an uplifting story of determination and courage, based on the true story of Rudy Reutigger.  Rudy’s story is for anyone who has ever dared to dream; dared to move beyond the status quo; dared to believe God for more and greater things in your life but found the path painful and difficult.

  • What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of?

Rudy grew up in a blue-collar family in Joliet, Illinois. He dreamed of wearing the Notre Dame uniform, despite his lack of athletic and academic aptitude.  His family and friends all worked in the local steel mill, and without the grades to get into college, he takes a job there after high school.

His brother, his teachers, and even his parents told him to let go of his dream.  Only his best friend Pete continued to believe in him when no one else did.  And then when Pete died, Rudy was faced with the decision that we have all faced at some point in our lives: would he become bitter or better; would he give up or press on; would he quit or keep dreaming.

  • What is one significant challenge you have had to overcome in your own life, and how has overcoming that challenge shaped the person you are today?

  • Who is someone in your life who needs you to believe in them?

Have a volunteer read James 1:2-3.

The word that probably best describes Rudy is “perseverance.”  James writes that it is the difficult times in our lives that grow our character, that we should take joy in those things because they cause us to grow.

This is the great irony of life.  We try to avoid pain wherever we can.  It’s why our medicine cabinets are full of Advil for headache pain, Bengay for joint pain, and cough syrup for throat pain.  Yet pain is always the pathway to growth.

We all want gain with out pain.  We all wish we could be fit without exercise, wise without learning, CEO without ever taking an entry-level job, but the truth is that there’s no gain physically, relationally, professionally, educationally, or (especially) spiritually without pain.  Even for Jesus, there was no resurrection Sunday without the blood stained cross of Good Friday.

Rudy took advantage of his acceptance to Holy Cross, a community college across the street from Notre Dame. He worked hard, studied hard, and became a groundskeeper at the Notre Dame football field just to be near it.  Even though his application to Notre Dame was rejected again and again, he didn’t give up.

  • When is one time that perseverance has paid off for you?

  • Has there ever been a time that you persevered and didn’t achieve the result you hoped for?

  • What did these experiences teach you?

Have a volunteer read Isaiah 40:31.

There’s an old African proverb that says, “The problem with finding ivory, there’s always an elephant attached to it.”

Rudy gets accepted to Notre Dame, and through effort, drive and determination he manages to land on the practice team… where he becomes a tackling dummy for the rest of the time. And day after day he gets kicked, thrown, pushed, and bruised in practice.  But he keeps on as he waits and hopes for the opportunity to suit up and play in a game just once before he graduates.

All of us hate to wait, but many of us are in a season of waiting right now. We might dream of a loving relationship, well-adjusted kids, a better career, or finding meaning in life.  We’re tempted to leave our difficult marriage, explode at our kids, cut corners at work to get ahead, or seek meaning in all of the wrong places.

Rudy endeared himself to his team, showed up for practice after practice, took hit after hit, but he finally reached a breaking point.  He decided to quit the team when he didn’t make the cut to dress for the last game of his senior year.

  • Where in your life are you waiting for something to change? What has kept you from giving up?

Have a volunteer read Isaiah 40:31.

Rudy’s teammates go to bat for him with the coach.  They stick by him and help make his dream a reality.  There’s something powerful about others believing in your dream, speaking life into your dream, helping you achieve your dream.

  • Who in your life has been instrumental in helping you to achieve your dreams?

  • Who do you have in your life currently who you can rely on to support and encourage you?

  • How can this group help to support and encourage your dreams?


Application

Rarely do we look back at our lives relieved that we had given up on something. More often we look back with regret at giving up too soon.

What is the thing in your life that if you give up on it now you’ll look back with regret?  Your marriage? Your family? Your job? A friend? Your sobriety? Your faith?

Right now (yes, right here in the middle of small group) pull out your phone and text someone you trust. Make sure it’s someone who is wise and who loves Jesus.  Tell him or her that you need to talk about something important and ask if he or she has time to get together within the next few days. Don’t wait until you get home and can talk yourself out of doing this. Send the text right now so that you can’t get out of it.

We were never meant to face life’s challenges alone.  Share how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking with this person and ask for help to persevere.