Not spinach, but the Spirit of God
“I pray that out of (God’s) glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” (Ephesians 3:16, NIV)
Lessons from Popeye, the Sailor Man
I was obsessed, as a kid, with the cartoon character Popeye.
This man of the sea captivated my mind and held my attention for fifteen minutes at a time, the length of an episode broadcast on my parent’s color TV. Popeye was always finding a way to escape the grip of any given situation, most often orchestrated by his archenemy Brutus, and usually culminating in the rescue of the beautiful, although less than capable, Olive Oil. Popeye’s enchantment for her was only matched by his desire for the canned vegetable spinach that produced his amazing strength.
Yes, I was obsessed with Popeye, so much so that I sweet-talked my own mother into the purchase of a can of spinach. After all, if the leafy greens could transform a scrawny Popeye into a bicep-bulging man of action, they could surely bolster my pathetic frame. I carried that can of spinach everywhere I went, returning it to our kitchen cabinet only when the day’s heroism had been accomplished.
Lessons from the Apostle Paul
The Bible character Paul speaks of a different type of strength in his letter to the Church in Ephesus. This strength is not physical in nature, nor does it come from something a person consumes. Rather, the strength Paul writes about originates from and is gifted by the Holy Spirit of God. This spiritual strength is bestowed upon everyone who has a faith relationship with the Savior Jesus.
Once we are strengthened by God’s very own Spirit, we become capable of some pretty amazing things. We can grapple with temptation, break the bonds of addictive behaviors, stand tall with integrity, and flex our spiritual muscles against injustice. Our chief adversary, the Devil, does not have a fighting chance against our divinely given spiritual strength.
My childhood idolization of Popeye eventually ran its course and gave way to greater endeavors found in the form of baseball cards and dirt bike riding. My mom cooked my coveted can of spinach, the small serving of which I politely declined due to its odorous smell and mossy texture. I began to understand that true strength isn’t limited to cartoon characters but is available to all people. My ultimate strength would not be realized through spinach, but through the Spirit of God.