At the beginning of every year, you can find hordes of exercise enthusiasts in the gym, health club, home exercise room, garage, etc. pumping iron. Many are striving for massive arms or toned tummies. Or, at least giving their muscles a reason to be sore. And I’m the one driving around and grumbling in the parking lot because I can’t find a spot to park while all the January-February seasonal members invade my fitness club. Where are these workout folks in mid-summer when I’m here sweating it out? I reason to myself as I circle the parking lot for the fifth time.
But hey, who I am I to judge? After all, I do go to a exercise place that prides itself on “the Judgement Free Zone.” (Yet, I must admit, as I writer, I do judge an American business that spells judgement with the extra British “e.” Come on, people, it’s judgment!) And now back to our regularly scheduled blog post on biceps and massive arms.
As I young girl, I loved watching Popeye episodes with my brothers. If you’re not quite sure who Popeye is, just type in “Popeye arms” in a Google search, and you’ll find 3,300,000 search results. Really? So it’s not just me that remembers the sailor cartoon character’s bulky biceps and forearms.
Maybe Popeye inspired a 23-year-old Russian bodybuilder last year to inject more than 100 ounces of petroleum jelly into his guns that each swelled to a 24-inch diameter. The wannabe Sailor Man nearly died from the toxic results that filled his biceps with dying muscle and scar tissue. Ohhhh, Olive Oyl, shiver me timbers! I yam disgustipated!
And now back to our regularly scheduled blog post on biceps and massive arms. Yesterday, I was reading in Psalm 91 from my Christmas gift, The Passion Translation Bible. Verse 4 just sent me into immediate tears: “His massive arms are wrapped around you, protecting you. You can run under his covering of majesty and hide. His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm.”
Instantly, I flashed back to my Dad’s “massive arms.” Well, as a preschooler, my father’s arms seemed majorly buff to me. You see, every Sunday morning, we had this fun routine. While Mom was making her trademark scrambled eggs with bacon already cut up in the fluffy dish, I would check on my dad who was reading the Sunday paper in bed. As soon as he heard me approach, Dad would drop the paper and lean over the edge of bed to engulf me in a bear hug.
Nestled in a Sardine Can
Dad would wrap his massive arms around my waist, and I’d try to wiggle out when he exclaimed, “I’ve got you in a sardine can!” Sardines? We never ate sardines, but I always thought of a Starkist® tuna can when Dad said this. For a minute or two, Dad and I would do our best imitation of all-star wrestlers in a body hold move. But Dad didn’t squeeze or swish me, he just lovingly made it hard for me to squirm away from the sardine can.
So yesterday when I read Psalm 91:4 in my new Bible translation, I pictured my heavenly Father wrapping his massive arms around me like my earthly father. And then, instead of squirming and fussing, I relaxed and just poured out my concerns like a blubbering child. “And then, and then…there’s this going on…and then, and then, this happened. And, and, I need your help with this.”
You know what? It felt such comfort and relief to just be held in God’s sardine can. I didn’t want to escape. I just wanted to stop my stammering and fidgeting.
Do you need to a minute or two in God’s sardine can? Is it time to be wrapped in his massive arms, his “arms of faithfulness” that are waiting to protect you and give you comfort and a reprieve from our dizzying world?
He’ll put down the paper for you. He’ll lean down to your level and give you that warm embrace. And before you know it, you’ll stop your restlessness and your best imitation of Popeye stammering, “That’s all I can stands, ‘cause I can’t stands no more!”
Ahoy, oh, my gorshk! There is always time to rest awhile in God’s massive arms and his comforting sardine can. I promise, he won’t squish you, even if his guns outgun Popeye’s and my dad’s.