There is something about Popeye stories that remind me of my daily life. I know, I’m not literally saving Olive Oyl from Bluto everyday, but there are parallels between my spiritual obstacles and Popeye’s daily routine of mumbling to himself and getting into sticky situations.
On a normal day Popeye is just a sailor with enormous forearms and a squinty eye. He minds his own business, but quickly lends a helping hand when he sees trouble. Overall, he’s a pretty nice guy, but he always seems to get into hopeless situations.
It’ll typically revolve around Olive Oyl being kidnapped by his overweight nemesis, Bluto. In Popeye’s life, he goes to save Olive and gets his butt handed to him by Bluto. When it seems all is lost, Popeye opens up a can of spinach and eats it. This makes him an unstoppable wrecking machine and he punches Bluto into space and saves Olive.
That’s an average day for Popeye and it is awfully like my own life.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
Every Popeye story begins with him going to see Olive Oyl. Sometimes it is to bring her flowers, pick her up for a date, or just to say hello. No matter what though, we always know what Popeye wants. He simply just wants to be with Olive Oyl.
So, in order to tell a better story with your life you’ll have to figure out what you want. What is your Olive Oyl? For me, it can be writing a good book, taking an awesome adventure to a new place, or trying something new and exciting. The most important thing is to know what you want.
In order to gain clarity on what you want you’ll need to turn your heart and mind to Christ. If we are honest with ourselves he is what we should want. I Chronicles 16:11 says, “Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his presence continually”. I think we sometimes get used to God being there and forget that he is closer than the air we breath. He is our North Star to guide us in the right direction. So, we need to be putting Christ first in our lives in order to find true North in our spiritual travels.
Once we know the direction we are facing we’ll know where we are going. God is the compass in our travels. That brings us back to knowing what we want. Where is the thing that we want? What direction do we set out? Popeye always knows what he wants, Olive Oyl. In Lord of the Rings the characters want to destroy the ring. Scooby-Doo always wants to solve the mystery. So, what to you want? What drives your life? What are you moving toward?
BLUTO IS THE DEVIL
Bluto is the devil. Plain and simple.
He’s the guy that is always messing up Popeye’s life. He is always stealing Olive Oyl away from Popeye. Everywhere Popeye goes Bluto is there to be a thorn in his side. That has to be so annoying for Popeye.
The Devil does the same thing in our lives. I Peter 6:8 says, “Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.” When we live for Christ we will be compelled to do righteous things that the Devil hates. You’ll find yourself wanting to love others, give your time to ministry, and tell people about Christ. These are all things that you end up wanting when you are following Christ.
The Devil is there to tempt you to be selfish, think about yourself, and forget about those righteous things that Christ has put in your heart. The situation can get tough, too. Popeye gets into some bad situations. The first time you watch a Popeye cartoon you don’t know about spinach. Your stomach drops and you think, “Oh no! Popeye just lost.”
How many times have you’ve been in that situation? It is the moment when all things seem lost. Here’s the good news. That “all is lost” moment is apart of every great story.
FAITH IS LIKE SPINACH
When Popeye is down and out he can always turn to his trusty can of spinach. Even if he is tied up he’ll be able to squeeze open a can and eat it with his pipe. The second he eats that spinach it’s clobbering time. Popeye becomes a human tank and nothing stands in his way. He takes down Bluto and saves Olive Oyl.
So, what is our spinach? What fuels us and gives us strength when all seems lost. I simply think it is faith. It is our ability to believe that anything is possible through Christ. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Popeye can see his spinach and knows what it can do, but he doesn’t use it until the last-minute. It is almost like he forgot he had it with him. Maybe sometimes we forget our faith in God until the last-minute, too.
After Popeye has his spinach he acts with conviction. He acts and moves towards the things he has hoped for, the things he wants. The spinach is just a metaphor for our faith in Christ. God will bring us out of the “all is lost” moments. After we find our faith we can step forward in confidence that Christ is in control. We can take care of the Devil just like Popeye wipes the floor with Bluto. In the end we can obtain our goals, wants, and dreams. We just need to remember to have faith in God when all seems lost.