Saturday, June 16, 2012

Cheeks Full of Spinach

Happy Father's Day!

Little Birdie Blessings graphic credit

I've been MIA in Blogland for the past month - my last post celebrating my mother just before Mother's Day.  Now - here we are weeks later and I'm back . . . thinking of Dad - my Dad!

And, Popeye, of course.

With a side of spinach!  You see, in his later years, my dad actually looked like Popeye - a little fellow with bulky forearms and chubby cheeks and a perpetual wink in his left eye due to the disease that eventually took him.

Okay, stick with me here.  Picking up where I left off Reading the Red in the Beattitudes, I can't help but think of Dad:

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy."
Matthew 5:7

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth!'  But, I say to you - do not resist an evil person, but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also."
Matthew 5:38-39

We start life off with a SLAP.  Fine way to be greeted in this world, but that's what the world has to give.  We cry and fill our lungs with fresh oxygen.  "I just squeezed through this narrow tunnel, bringing trama to my mother, as well as myself, and this is the thanks I get!  I get a slap!  Why, you'd better watch out in about another 20 years or so!"

Is this what we think?

No, we forget instantly about the slap when we are cleaned up, and held fast, placed in our mother's arms. "There, that's better!  I'm in familiar territory now!  Boy, am I hungry!"

Perhaps we lash out because we're not in familiar territory when we get older, we know we're not where we belong.  We belong with those who created us, our parents - where it's safe and warm.  Where we'll be cared for and protected.  The slap is in the distant past now as we get our first nourishment without the umbilical cord.  We are clean, warm, and fed.  All is forgotten.  All is forgiven.  We hear a comforting and confirming voice on the outside.  A voice that sounds different, yet strangely familiar. The voice Mother.  Of Father - so strong and protective.

As we grow, SLAPS HAPPEN.  We need to hear the comforting and confirming voices of mother and father on the outside - our protectors, those who love us.  But, more than that - we need to hear the comforting and confirming voice of God our Father - our Protector - on the inside. 

It is in our nature to "lash out" when slapped - giving more heed to the bullying voices in the world outside while drowning out the sweet whisperings of the Spirit inside - He who is the Believer's true Parent - our Heavenly Father voice.  Funny how we forget about the slaps when our deepest needs are met - like, Jesus forgiving me of all my sin.  With this forgiveness, I'm washed, cleaned up, fed, and placed in the Father's protective arms.

I'm safe and sound.  I hear His voice through His Word:

"Father , forgive them, for they know not what they do!"

I hear this on the inside of my heart which is good since I know I'm going to need its protective shield on the outside.  More "slaps" are coming!

From my boss when he doesn't recognize my work and I get passed over for a raise.  SLAP!

The motorist who cuts me off on the road and then shouts at me as though I were at fault.  SLAP!

My kids.  SLAP!

The Government.  SLAP!

Even my brothers and sisters in Christ - sad to say.  SLAP!

The list goes on:  Relatives, in-laws, co-workers, bullies, friends who disappoint, young people in want of manners, the clerk at the register in the store, insulting gas station attendants . . . even my spouse.  The Lord has used all in my life as "holy sandpaper".  These SLAPS, were I to put a monetary price on the value of them against me would fall . . . I would say . . . in the range of about . . . $10.

Yep - you read that right.  TEN DOLLARS.

That's all they would owe me - perhaps a dollar or two less, even.  A mere pittance - compared to the sum of sin I've racked up since my birth and my first . . . SLAP.  What I owe to Jesus would be, in today's monetary value . . . about . . . somewhere in the ozone of trillions of dollars - ba-zillions of dollars.

Impossible to reimburse apart from a "sugar daddy".  Ah!  My Heavenly Father comes to the financial bailout through the immeasurable gift of Jesus Christ, writing PAID IN FULL on my life voucher of sin debt when He took and forgave me of such a debt on the cross.

I hear the familiar voice again as I meditate on what He did for me.  It was to ME He was referring when He said:

"Father, forgive Ed, for he knows not what he does!"

This is were Popeye comes in!  Fanfare, please!

You see, when I'm SLAPPED - but, hear His voice - I suddenly grow POPEYE CHEEKS!  You know Popeye - Popeye the Sailorman?  The one with the big cheeks.  You only see one eye because his cheeks are so big.  You also know that he gets stronger when he eats his spinach - getting it down deep on the inside.  It seemed that for every SLAP at the hands of Bluto - Popeye would reach for his spinach - and be "strong to the finish"!  Invincible!

We're strong and invincible when we get that Holy Spirit brand spinach deep down on the inside - growing Popeye Cheeks and big forearms in our soul and spirit making us more like Jesus and able to turn our cheek at any old SLAP with the power to "forgive our debtors".

In Matthew 18:21, Peter needed a good dose of Popeye Cheeks.  He asks:

"Lord, how often shall my brother sin (slap) against me and I forgive him?  Up to seven times?"

Peter was really asking like the rest of us, "What happens when I run out of cheeks?"

But, listen to the comforting and confirming voice of Jesus as he responds:

"I do not not to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven!"

Okay - third grade multiplication math class tell us - THAT'S 490 CHEEKS!  We don't have that many!  It's impossible!  It can't be done!

Or, can it?

Why, you'd have to be some sort of NEW CREATION to have 490 cheeks!  But, let's not throw the towel in on this mathematical Word problem quite yet.  Let's allow the Lord to clean us up, hold us fast, and feed us some HOLY SPINACH - while He tells us a story in that comforting and confirming Voice of His:

 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents (15 years worth of wages!) was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made.  So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.  But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii (100 days wages); and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?' And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother (or sister)  from your heart.”

Matthew 18:23-35  NASB

Blessed are those, who are living forgiven, knowing the mercy that Jesus showed to us when we SLAPPED Him, should move us to show mercy to those who SLAP us, remembering theses Words, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do"

The next time this world puts a good one on you, remember:  A SLAP is better than torture - especially when fortified with POPEYE CHEEKS.  A slap is for a moment.  Torture is for eternity.

I come home from work.  My wife is cooking something.  She tells me she's been unjustly slandered, mocked, and misused at her job.  I ask her, "What for supper?''  She replies, "Spinach."

How do you read?  What do you think? 

Sharing Cheeks Full of Spinach this week with:
Faith Filled Fridays at Beholding Glory
Graceful's Hear It On Sunday - Use It On Monday 


  1. Hi Ed,
    I am glad I clicked on your link at Spiritual Sundays! I love your sense of humour, I am sure that God has a great sense of humour as well. I will be coming back for sure!

  2. How interesting. I've always been intrigued by Popeye. - Even more so now. I like the analogy. You made it very interesting.
    And BTW. I'm glad you're back.


I welcome your comments and conversation as we enter into His Story together!

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