“That’s all I can stands, and I can’t stands no more!”
I admit it. I have been around long enough that when I hear this sentence, I know who said it…Popeye the Sailor Man, a cartoon that existed in the deep dark past…
As I kid I watched Popeye cartoons. I was born in 1951 so Popeye had been around for a few years. The comic strip was created in 1929 and when I was old enough to watch television, Popeye the comic strip was converted to Popeye Cartoons and the show was popular with youngsters. The cartoons were a little primitive by today’s standards but when you had very little to watch at all, they seemed pretty good.
Pastor Hybels talks about Popeye as a way to illustrate motivation. The cartoons tended to follow the same pattern over and over. Popeye had a girlfriend named Olive Oyl and a nemesis named Bluto. Bluto was a brute and he was constantly trying to steal Olive Oyl away from Popeye. He specialized in making Popeye’s life miserable. Despite Bluto’s irritating ways, I remember that Popeye always tried to maintain his composure, allowing Bluto to push harder and harder until he pushed Popeye too far.
That’s when Popeye uttered “That’s all I can stands, and I can’t stands no more!”
If you remember Popeye cartoons, you know the drill. Popeye would grab a can of spinach and he would squeeze it. The spinach came flying out the top of the can and right into his mouth.
Popeye had misshapened forearms anyhow, but when he ate a can of spinach they became huge. You knew he could do some damage with his arms and he did. He took out his frustration on Bluto and always won Olive back.
The point of all this is that Popeye did not have a hair trigger temper. It took a while for him to build up to taking action but eventually he got there, his moment when he could not “stands no more.”
What does it take for you to reach the point of action?
Hybels says it is when we see something that is so wrong we cannot sit idly by.
My wife is a devoted pet owner. She has a large heart for animals. When a news story comes on about animal abuse, I race to the remote control to get the television on a different station. When an ASPCA add comes on with pets in distress and the request for aid, she has to turn the ad off. You might say that her love of animals is her passion. When she sees an animal in distress, she cannot “stands no more.” We currently have three stray cats in our home. Several years ago, we took in a stray and her kittens and she had five kittens after she came into our house. At one point we had nine darling cats in our home. Thankfully, we got all but three adopted. For the three that remain, my wife makes sure that this little segment of the feline population is loved.
Folks, there are so many needs in this world and as Christians, we are called to serve. Matthew 25 is pretty clear about what we are supposed to do: The Son of Man will come in all His glory and will say “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me. Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”
This is a call to serve.
Will it take something outrageous for us to act?
Maybe it will. Maybe we will have to have a Popeye moment when we can’t “stands it anymore!”
Whatever it takes, the needs are great and they are evident, in the jailhouse, on the street corner, under the bridge, at the mission house and yes, even in the pew next to you at church.
Look, talk to the person with a caring heart, try to determine the need, figure out what you can do and grab a can of spinach and squeeze…