For those Who Are a Little Banged Up – Greg Albrecht

A Little Banged Up:

In the Academy Award nominated movie “Seabiscuit” the phrase “You don’t throw away a whole life just because he’s banged up a little” initially refers to a horse no one wanted. Seabiscuit was a feisty, hard to handle, undersized and overlooked thoroughbred race horse with a temper—a horse with an attitude—a horse who only seemed to eat and sleep too much. No owner wanted to risk investing in such a horse.

The movie tells us about Tom Smith, a trainer who specialized in rehabilitating injured and abused horses who was hired to work for Charles Howard, played by Jeff Bridges, who was beginning to acquire a stable of racehorses.

Tom Smith sees potential in Seabiscuit and even though “Seabiscuit” has many weaknesses and many negatives Smith convinces Charles Howard to buy him, as Smith had assured the owner, “You don’t throw away a whole life just because he’s banged up a little.”

They didn’t throw away Seabiscuit, and this horse eventually proved those who believed in him right, as he captured the attention of the American public in a way that few racehorses have. Seabiscuit was named American Horse of the Year in 1938. Laura Hillenbrand begins her best-selling book “Seabiscuit”—the book that was followed by the movie of the same name—describing the enormous interest and following that Seabiscuit inspired:

“In 1938, near the end of a decade of monumental turmoil, the year’s number-one newsmaker was not Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Hitler or Mussolini. It wasn’t Pope Pius XI, nor was it Lou Gehrig, Howard Hughes or Clark Gable. The subject of most newspaper column inches in 1938 wasn’t even a person. It was an undersized, crooked-leg racehorse named Seabiscuit.”

Three Men & A Horse

In both the book and the movie “Seabiscuit,” three men and a horse are all a little banged up.

The rich owner Charles Howard had not been born into wealth—he started working in a bicycle shop. Then he became interested in cars, and started his own business, which eventually grew into one of the largest car dealerships in California.

But his success story ended when he lost his son in a tragic accident—Howard was struggling to move on with his life, despite his overwhelming grief.

The trainer Tom Smith was banged up. He was a non-conformist who did not do things like horse trainers did in those days. Tom Smith saw every horse as having potential of some kind, regardless of how banged up that horse was. Given his unorthodox methods and views, Tom Smith was definitely different and was rejected and considered inferior to other trainers.

The jockey, Red Pollard, played in the movie by Tobey Maguire, was also a person with a checkered past. As a child Red was abandoned by his parents, who left him with a horse trainer at a race track. Red had to scrap his way through life—making money through illegal boxing matches, one of which left him blind in one eye.

Red didn’t have many friends—he was an angry man who had been abandoned and he frequently got into fights. Before he was chosen as Seabiscuit’s jockey Red was far from successful as a jockey—before he joined forces with Seabiscuit, Red had one of the lowest winning percentages of any of his fellow jockeys.

But, when Charles Howard—the owner—and Tom Smith, the trainer, were looking for a jockey to ride Seabiscuit they saw the same kind of potential in this little regarded, blind-in-one eye, scrapper of a man named Red Pollard—after all, “You don’t throw away a life just because they’re banged up a little.”

Seabiscuit is a story about three men and a horse—all of whom are banged up, all a little worse for wear.

Here’s how Laura Hillenbrand describes Seabiscuit in her book:

“The horse was a train wreck. He paced his stall incessantly. He broke into a lather at the sight of a saddle. He was two hundred pounds overweight and chronically tired. Seabiscuit didn’t run, he rampaged. When the rider asked him for speed, the horse slowed down. When he tried to rein him in, the horse bolted. Asked to go left, he’d dodge right; tugged right, he’d dart left.”

Jesus Came For all Who Are “A Little Banged Up”

Jesus came down out of heaven—he came to be one of us, for us. He came to redeem us, to rescue us, to reconcile us. He came to the downtrodden and the rejected, the marginalized and the forgotten—the lost and the least. Jesus came for us all, and we are all a little banged up.

As far as God in Christ is concerned, no one is outside of his grace. No one is a throwaway. No one is beyond hope.

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