Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Tallest Man I Ever Knew –Part II

Imagine, if you can, a man so big that he wore a size 10 hat, a size 64 suit, a size 20 shoe on the right and a 21 on the left. He had a 22 inch neck, a 50 inch chest, a 49 inch waist and hands that were 19 inches long. That was Max Palmer! No matter how many times I ate a meal with him or took him somewhere I never ceased to be amazed at his size.

At 17 Max was the tallest basketball player on any high school team. He literally towered above everyone. One would think that Max was the most popular kid in school and headed for superstardom.

Beginning in grade 6 his years in school were not always easy because he was different. Being different meant never fitting in and always being teased. That early treatment by many who knew him caused him to become a heavy drinker. By his early twenties Max was in and out of trouble including jail.

By the early 1950’s Max’s size opened doors in Hollywood as he appeared in several movies. He was always a little scary when people would first see him but for the movies he needed to be “real scary.” With a little make-up he would easily become the malevolent giant or a huge killer ape!

After Hollwood, professional wrestling and several years as a bouncer in a night-club in Kansas City Max ended up in the hospital with some serious health issues. It was only after hearing how much God loved a giant that Max made the most important decision of his life when he accepted Jesus as his personal savior. He was a changed man after that. For the first time in his life he had purpose and direction. He spent several years traveling the country sharing his story in churches and schools. As “Goliath for Christ” he used to tell audiences “I used to play the piano, but I hardly pick one up anymore!”

In 1986 Max went in the hospital for his annual physical and while there contracted staff infection. Within a short period of time the infection was throughout his body and to the surpise of all his friends, Max died. His funeral was a memorable one. A backhoe lowered the grand piano case containing Max’s body into the ground.

I often remember those years of knowing him and recall the huge amount of food he ate every two hours, the look on someone’s face when they first saw the giant, his sense of humor as he scared people and his love for the Lord.

I think one of the reasons that he and I became friends is that we were opposites. He was at least two and a half feet taller than I am. We could not have been more different and yet it was our differences that connected us. Like Max, though, I had been teased during Junior and Senior High School. Like Max I felt that being short made me a freak. And like Max I found peace and acceptance in Christ. As much as Max learned to accept his size I learned that being short has great benefits. I always tell the short jokes first and make friends easily with little kids. Through the years I’ve had the privilege of telling a number of teenagers who was trying to deal with being short or being very tall, that God does love them and that they are specifically designed to be exactly who they are. What a blessing it has been to see a teen wounded by teasing to finally be able to accept themselves. In Jeremiah God said “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you.” Knowing that God made you the way He wanted you can help you face the teasing and the ridicule that the world loves to throw out.

Max was unique and so are you!

No comments: