A Giant Throwing Starfish (The Blind Side)
There was a kids book called “The Giant” that I was facinated with when I was first learning to read! I checked that same book out numerous times from our school library. It was about a kid who was a Giant in the world. It was illustrated with his enormous pictures doing enormous things! He was relating how it felt as the ocean was his bath tub and the ships were his toys. He sat there and played with the ships for hours and if he got bored he might stand up and catch an airplane just for his amusement. The story ends when he wakes up from his “Giant” dream.
I have learned since that “Giants” don’t have to be big in stature. The movie “The Blind Side” was a big box office hit and it was based on a true story! Leigh Anne Tuohy was a well off mother of two. Her family spotted Michael Oher, a giant of a kid, walking down the road on a cold rainy night with just shorts and a T-shirt on. She offered Michael a ride and he reluctantly accepted. Little did she know that Michael’s father had been murdered and his mother was a drug addict. All she saw was a big kid who seemed to be walking around aimlessly. Everyone seemed to always pass him by without question or hesitation. Leigh Anne was not like most people. She wondered why and because she did the relationship with Michael began to grow.
Michael eventually was invited to make his home in their house. At first he was offered to spend the night with them. He was so withdrawn that Leigh Anne had a very hard time getting anything out of him. It seemed that Michael was hurt so much in life that he kept everything inside. It took someone like Leigh Anne to get him to open up. Everyone called Michael “Big Mike.” Since that was what everyone called him Leigh Anne called him that too. As she was trying to have him open up to the world and her in particular she asked “Big Mike, is there anything I should know about you? After hesitating in his usual way he said something very unexpectedly that she didn’t know. “I don’t like to be called Big Mike.” “OK”, she said, as she was thrilled with that piece of knowledge, “from now on we will call you Michael!”
For a while Michael slept on their couch downstairs. One day Leigh Anne announced to Michael that he was going to have his own room. “The $8,000 dollar couch is getting worn out,” she said in mock disbelief. She showed him the bed she had purchased for him. It was much more expensive because it had to be larger to support him. She also bought him a dresser and had the room just so. Michael looked at her in that quiet unassuming way he had. “Is this all mine?”, he asked. “Yes”, she affirmed, “it is all yours!” “I never had one of these before,” he went on. “You mean a room?”, she wondered. “No, a bed”, he answered. It was almost too much for her not to break down as she quickly said “Well, you have one now” , wished him goodnight and hurriedly left the room before she lost it completely.
Michael was behind accademically but his grades slowly started to improve. Because of his massive size the football coach just knew that he would be dominant on the field. When Michael’s grades improved enough for him to play the coach was anxious to see him take over. Michael was wired differently than the coach liked however. He was not a natural battler like some of the smaller kids were. When Michael was sixteen and came to the Tuoy’s house he heard the story of Ferdinand the Bull for the first time. The story must have been like looking in the mirror because the same traits Ferdinand had Michael did also. Ferdinand the bull was the biggest bull in the field. While the other bulls locked horns and battled for toughness supremecy Ferdinand was content to lay under a cork tree and smell the flowers. Day after day Ferdinand layed under this tree happy as can be. One day the people from the bull fights were looking for a ferocios bull that would make a great show. They visited the bull yard one day and it just so happened that a bee stung Ferdinand and he was in agony. He was hurting so badly that he started running and smashed over everything in his way including the other bulls. The men from the bull fighting show chose Ferdinand over all of the other bulls. When it came time for the show to start and Ferdinand was let into the arena, instead of charging he contently walked out and smelled a flower that was in the ring. When it was apparent that there was no fight in him they reluctantly took him back to the bull yard. He found his favorite tree and was content the rest of his days smelling the flowers. Michael was also content with life and how things were turning out for him. He was not an aggressive kid and smelling the flowers to him was like enjoying a lot of things in life besides football.
Leigh Anne Tuohy knew what button to push. She had found out months before that Michael was in the lower percentiles in almost every subject. One that he was at 95% however was protection. In Michael’s life he had learned to be protective of the ones that he loved and would not let them get hurt. Leigh Anne used this strength for his advantage on the football field. She had him envision that the Quarterback and Runningbacks were like his adopted brother and herself. He was to protect them so that none of the opposition could hurt them. From that time on Michael turned into an unstoppable force. He went straight up the radar screen of colleges throughout the land. He ended up at Mississippi and played so well he became a pro and plays today for the Baltimore Ravens. Michael’s story had a happy ending and it can be attributed to the moral of another story that follows.
A wise man was walking toward the ocean. From a distance he saw a figure that appeared to be dancing. As he got closer he saw that it was a boy. The boy was not dancing at all but throwing something into the water. As the wise man got closer he saw that the boy was throwing starfish one by one that had been washed up onto the beach. As the hot summer sun beat down on the beached starfish they would surely die if left on the beach. The wise man called out to the boy “There are thousands of them out here, you are wasting your time because you cannot possibly save them all.” The boy answered back as he threw one back into the water “well I saved that one.”
God calls each of us to do what we can. He does not expect you or I to save the world. What he does call us to do however is to meet needs. There is a saying that is widespread called WWJD or What would Jesus do? I think in this case Jesus would have done exactly what Leigh Anne did. While others saw Michael and passed on the other side of the road, Leigh Anne didn’t. She wondered why and offered a helping hand. In short she saw a need and step by step went in the direction of filling that need.
The movie was called “Blind Side” because Michael ended up playing the position in football of protecting the Quarterback’s blind side. A right handed Quarterback has his back to the Right Defensive End. It is Michael’s job to block that Defensive End who is attempting to hit the Quarterback unexpectedly while he is most vulnerable. The fact is however that all of us have a blind side. We don’t know what the future holds or what troubles will come our way. We do have someone who will protect us from all harm if we trust in him! If we walk in the will of God he gives back far more than we could ever give! When it was mentioned to Leigh Anne by some of her well to do friends as to how she was changing Michael’s life, she was quick to point out that “you are wrong, he is changing our lives!” Leigh Anne realized that by getting involved they entered into the will of God and by giving to a kid that needed them so much, they had opened themselves up to Gods blessings and peace as he gave back to them in a multitude of ways!
When I read “The Giant” book in elementary school, I pictured myself as “The Giant.” I envisioned what it would be like to play with ships in the ocean and to catch airplanes if I got bored. Through the years I learned that who most people thought of as “Giants” are just “Giants” in their dreams. The real “Giants” are people like Leigh Anne Tuohy. These are normal looking people that don’t sit around playing in the ocean like the “Dream Giant” in the book did, but walk along the beach, positioned to be useful. They are opened to God’s leading and desire to be his hands and feet while they are here. Leigh Anne didn’t start out as a “Giant” because nobody does. She turned into a “Giant” because she didn’t walk away from the starfish on the beach. Instead, she picked one up and helped it live again. It turned out that his name was Michael!