Rudy was 23 and had a dream—a dream that his family members tried to squash over and over again. “You’re not smart enough.” “You just have mediocre athletic skills.” His family feared he would fail and get hurt. The only person who encouraged him to reach for his dreams was his best friend. When his best friend was killed in an industrial accident, it was then that Rudy Ruettiger went out to make his dream come true, even against all odds.
Rudy’s dream was to play on the legendary Notre Dame University football team. After three rejections, and then final acceptance, this young man of 5 foot 6, 165 pounds and fierce determination was able to realize his dream. Because of his determination, endurance and perseverance, Rudy won the respect of his fellow teammates, coaches and the student body.
Because of his size, he was still not allowed to play (even though he became a part of the team) until the last game of his senior year. In that game his teammates began to chant “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy!” Then the people in the stadium also followed suit. With 27 seconds remaining in the game, Rudy was allowed to play his one and only time. Rudy made a major play—he sacked the quarterback! Rudy was the only player since 1975 who was carried off the field on the shoulders of his fellow players.
On a hot July afternoon, a young 17-year-old girl dove into a shallow lake, changing her life forever. Joni Eareckson Tada snapped her neck, and was left as a quadriplegic. Through determination not to give up, she learned how to paint with a brush between her teeth.
Today she is an internationally known artist, author, speaker and radio host. She founded “Joni and Friends” to offer hope to hurting people by sharing her own experiences. Above all, she is an enthusiastic and highly effective advocate for those with physical disabilities.
A problem of gigantic proportions
David was a young lad who was considered the least of his brothers. When Samuel asked David’s father to present to him his sons, they overlooked David. When Samuel realized that none of these young men had been chosen by God to be king, he asked if there were another son. David—the youngest, the overlooked son—was anointed king of ancient Israel!
David was not sinless, but he was a man of great passions and was driven by great goals. While still a young man, David, when it seemed all odds were against to him, took a stand against the giant Goliath. When everyone else was afraid, David bravely took up his sling and stone and killed the giant. If David had retreated, had listened to his brothers and others around him telling him that it was impossible to go out and kill a giant with a sling, the course of history could have been changed.
“What was I thinking?”
Recently I had the opportunity to do something that I thought could never be possible for me. I was asked by the students of the Ambassador Bible Center here in Cincinnati to speak at their graduation banquet!
When I was younger, I was so shy that I would not speak to anyone. When I did, I would usually end up stuttering, which would mortify me and I would retreat even more. But I did not want to give in to this. Or to give up! I wanted to grow and be all that God wanted me to be. My minister advised me to go around, stick out my hand and say hello. It was very hard at first, but became easier with time. Even now, there are times I get nervous and the words just don’t come out right.
So when I was asked to speak, I said yes, then started wondering, “What was I thinking?” But like Rudy, Joni and King David, I did not want to give in to my fear. I prayed about the speech a lot! I practiced a lot and I asked others to pray for me about it.
When I got up to speak in front of a whole group of people, to my surprise I did not stutter and was not nervous. I had accomplished something in my life that I thought I could never do. God had indeed answered my prayer and was there with me through that speech. That speech demonstrated to me how far you can come with the help of God and others if you don’t give up!
What’s holding you back?
What is your dream? What is it that holds you back from being all that you can be? Is it a handicap, your size, your speech, your education? Is it criticism from others telling you that you cannot do this or your own self-image saying you cannot accomplish your dreams? Here are some points that I believe will help you to rise against all odds.
1. Seek God first. Philippians 4:13 Philippians 4:13I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
American King James Version×says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Put God first in your life! Ask Him to give you wisdom, courage, strength and a pure heart.
James 1:5 James 1:5If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraides not; and it shall be given him.
American King James Version×tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Hebrews 13:6 Hebrews 13:6So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me.
American King James Version×emphasizes the help and strength God provides: “So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”
The movie Rudy showed Rudy praying often, asking for God’s help.
God wants us to have good things in this life. In Ephesians 3:20 Ephesians 3:20Now to him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
American King James Version×Paul describes God’s power to help us: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Ask God to travel that difficult road with you and help you reach your dreams. God can be your helper.
2. Prepare. You have to prepare for your dream. You have to be willing to work hard. You have to struggle. You prepare through education. You have to have goals. Rudy had to acquire sound study habits through hard work. He even had to get a tutor. He had to bring up his grades so he could be accepted to Notre Dame.
Knowledge comes from preparation. Reinforce your dreams every day with positive information from tapes, books and mentors. Each day you will get closer to your dream through preparation.
3. Ask God to send people into your life who will encourage you and help you along the way. In the movie about his life, Rudy had people who urged him on. Before he was accepted at Notre Dame, he was accepted to a college across the street. During that time he worked for a groundskeeper at Notre Dame. The groundskeeper encouraged Rudy often to not give up his dream.
Rudy is now a much-sought-after speech motivator. If he had given in to people around him and not searched for his dream, his life would have been so different. He would not have realized his dream.
We all need people—mentors—to help us along the way. We need people to give us advice, to encourage us. I, too, had people to help me, like the minister who encouraged me out of my shyness. We cannot travel the road to our dreams by ourselves; we need help along the way.
4. Focus on your dream and never quit! Consider Hebrews 12:12-13 Hebrews 12:12-13  Why lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
American King James Version×: “So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong” (New Living Translation).
Joni did not give up when she wanted to. She had friends to encourage her to use what she had to give to others—her heart. Today she inspires many by her example and drive to not quit! Joni went way beyond what most people thought she was capable of doing and far beyond what she thought she could accomplish.
One of my favorite poems that I have often gone back to is “Don’t Quit!”
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low, and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit—
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night slipped down
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you are hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit!
Rudy almost quit. After all those years of struggles, right before his last game he almost quit. All Rudy wanted was to run out with his teammates through the tunnel so all his family could see that he had achieved his dream! He was there at Notre Dame with the football team! But when the list was posted for the last game with the names of the players to be in uniform, Rudy was not on it. Rudy felt betrayed and was about to quit.
While Rudy was staring out into an empty field, his mentor, his friend, his encourager, the groundskeeper, reminded him, “You can’t quit!” If Rudy had quit, he would not have had those seconds of fame. He would have lost his dream. But he stayed with it, and not only did his family see him play his one and only play on the field, but they saw the admiration that Rudy received from all his teammates.
Sometimes our lives can seem like they are against all odds. And we just give up right before victory!
Rudy, Joni and King David were all young people who battled against great odds. All the odds seemed against them, but they persevered on, they sought God, they received help and encouragement from others and they did not quit. You, too, can go against whatever is holding you back and reach your dreams. Ask God for help, ask others for help, prepare for your dream and don’t quit! You can beat the odds! And when you beat the odds, you can be an inspiration to others to do the same.
You may be interested in reading a couple of brochures related to this subject. When trials and suffering occur in your life or the lives of those you love, it’s natural to wonder, Why Does God Allow Suffering? Click here to read or request our brochure by that name. You will also want to read the biblical principles that can help you make life work. Click here to read or request our brochure, Making Life Work. Both are free of charge, in the public interest.