In the 1953 Popeye the Sailor episode, “Child Sockology,” Popeye and Bluto have dinner at Olive Oyl’s house.
While waiting for dinner, they quarreled with each other over who would play with Olive’s little toddler, Swee’Pea. But as Popeye and Bluto were busy fighting, Swee’Pea crawled out of the house to a nearby construction site where the steel frame of a towering skyscraper was being built.
Olive screamed as she caught a glimpse of little Swee’Pea crawling beneath a bundle of steel suspended by a cable. Both Popeye and Bluto raced to save him but continued to compete with each other in the process.
The scene got hair raising as Swee’Pea crawled onto a service elevator that whisked the baby up to the 100th floor of the steel frame. Swee’Pea, oblivious to the danger, crawled away on a narrow steel girder 1,000 feet above ground! Then Popeye watched in horror as his “adoptive nephew” crawled right off the steel structure just as a crane swung another girder in place in the nick of time for Swee’Pea to crawl onto it.
Then Swee’Pea crawled down the length of a moving girder, suspended by a crane. Again, just as the giggling baby reached the end of that swinging girder – and looked like he he was about to tumble off to his death – another moving girder swung in place—with miraculous timing—for Swee’Pea to crawl onto. This perfectly timed and orchestrated movement of girders that allows Swee’Pea to crawl from one to the other, keeps the audience on the edge of their seat—and gave poor Popeye half a heart attack. Again and again, it looked like Swee’Pea was about to plunge off the steel girder to his doom. But, just at the right time, another girder swung in place for Swee’Pea to hop onto.
God already has our story written out and He assures us that He will take care of every crisis and problem
In the end, Popeye, armed with his handy can of spinach, saved Swee’Pea, beat up Bluto, and all was well. But the image of that little baby having so many close calls remains fixed in our minds.
I often feel like little Swee’Pea, crawling along on those narrow steel girders. There’s a perfect record of God’s miraculous provision behind me, but no foreseeable solution to deal with the crisis ahead of me. Of course, unlike Swee’Pea, I don’t face the imminent crisis with such child-like trust. I’m crawling along the moving steel girder and see nothing beyond it but thin air. I forget God’s flawless record in the past—always providing for my needs with perfect timing. And sure enough, as I get to the end of that steel girder, another girder moves into place for me to step onto.
Popeye and I need to remember this: the author and artist of the cartoon have everything carefully planned and orchestrated. Swee’Pea will not fall to his death. It will never happen.
Nor will God ever abandon us. God already has our story written out and He assures us that He will take care of every crisis and problem. The answer to the prayer, the opportunities, and the supply for our needs will all come at just the right time.
But why does God keep us in suspense? Why doesn’t He show us the whole cartoon ahead of time so that we won’t have to worry? Why does He force us to walk by faith and not by sight?
Well, I can’t answer that entirely, but I do know this. God desires, yearns for, and greatly delights in our fellowship. I can’t explain it, but the Almighty Creator of the universe enjoys our company. But He knows we’ll ignore Him unless we sense our need for Him. So, in order to draw us to Himself and to get our undivided attention, God allows a little suspense in our lives.
God has called us into fellowship with His Son, wrote Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:9. “This is eternal life,” said Jesus, “that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent” (John 17:3). God loves you dearly and asks that we seek Him first and foremost and promises to take care of all those things that concern us (Matt. 6:33).
Dear Father in heaven, remind me to seek first Your reign in my life and to be in a right relationship with You, so that all my needs will be supplied and I’ll have a little less stress and suspense in my life. Amen.