Popeye the Super...I mean, Sailor?
Superhero. The very mention of the word brings at least one of the mighty, powerful, mythical, men and women of great strength and fortitude to mind. Superman. Wonder Woman. Spider-Man. (Did you notice that I left out Batman? Hmmm…). All of the aforementioned, beloved characters have some kind of super power or powers. Some aren’t even from this world. Their powers make them special. X-Ray Vision. Magic Lasso. The ability to shoot webs and climb like a spider. Great “gifts” to have if you’re going to be fighting crime. But. What if? What if all you had was your wits, detective-like skills, and a bit of scientific ingenuity? Would those things make you a Superhero? That, my friends, is the question I pose to you about another beloved character. Popeye the Sailor. Is he a Superhero? Yes! No! Maybe? I’ll let you stew on that one for a bit.
With forearms as big as battleship anchors and a chin to match, Popeye doesn’t exactly look like the superheroes we’ve come to know and love. No, I’m not saying he’s a superhero. Nice try though. J As he so famously says, Popeye is what he is. A spinach-eating, Olive Oyl-loving, Bluto-beating, corncob pipe smoking sailor. But is he super? Or a hero? I know. I asked that already. It’s the ultimate question of this post. Well, almost.
Remember, Popeye has no super powers. Not as we’ve come to be familiar with them from the likes of The Wolverine, The Incredible Hulk, or Kara Zor-El (That’s Supergirl to you.). However, he does obtain super strength when he eats a can of spinach. Remind me to tell you the story of how I convinced my mom that I’d eat the can of spinach if she bought it for me, because I wanted to be strong like Popeye. Ok, back to the point. Did the spinach really give him super strength or just more confidence? Or more regular strength? Either way, he wasn’t able to beat his nemesis Bluto until he ate the spinach.
Sometimes when I think of Popeye, I think, “Man, he fits in the bible quite well.” Save the angry letters and listen for a few. See, we tend to put folk like Paul, David, Peter, Moses and others on a pedestal as though they have superpowers. Newsflash. They don’t. Well, not until they “eat” their form of spinach. Faith and the Word of God. They’d be the first to tell you, “Superpowers? Chil’ please! I was scared to death! Until I remembered who God said I was and what He said I could do!” Whether they saw and walked with God in the flesh in the form of Jesus Christ as Peter did or studied and meditated on His word as did John and Paul, they all feasted on God’s word in some form. Just like Popeye did with his spinach. See, there aren’t any superheroes in the bible. We tend to make them out to be, but they’re not. They were men and women just like you and me. We can and do have the same power they possessed. Yes, it is available to us today. I can hear you now, “Eric, are you sure? How do we obtain this power?! I want it! I need it!” I’m so glad you asked! The answer is simple. I’ll sum it up in one word: Eat.
Yes, I said it. Eat. No, not spinach. (Although, spinach is quite a superfood, if you will, but that’s a post for another day.). To be super we must eat the word of God. Daily. We must develop a voracious appetite for it. We must stay fed up on it. Just like Popeye and his spinach. When we do, Psalm 1.3 says, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Is that great or what?! YES! Give me some! Surely, you can have it, but as with anything there’s a price to be paid. Let’s back up a tad and look at verse 2, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. See, we’ll be like the tree and whatever we do will prosper, but only after we feed take pleasure in and delight in God’s word. Here it is again in Joshua 1.8, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” I can hear you asking, “Eric, thanks for the bible lesson, but get back to the point. Is Popeye a superhero or not?” I told you, that’s for you to decide. But because I’m a nice guy, I won’t leave you hanging.
Paul, John, Peter, Moses, David, and no one else in the bible was a superhero. Like Popeye and his spinach, they fed on God’s word. They prayed and meditated on it. They had faith in what God said He’d do. Just like you should. Just like I should. I guess you could say that they ate God’s word. His truths. His promises. His grace. His love. Just like Popeye feasted on spinach. It didn’t make him super or give him superpowers. It made him stronger. He had faith in it. In what it would do for him. In what it would allow him to do for others (Uh oh. I just said something there!). Just like Paul, John, Peter, Moses, and David. They weren’t super. They had not a single, solitary superpower between them. But just like Popeye, they knew that by feeding on the Source of their strength day and night, they’d be powerfully super in what they were called to do and do greater things than leaping tall buildings in a single bound. And so can you. Just eat your spinach.