There is nothing more improbable than the physical world around us, let alone Christ’s life within us. The winter solstice in itself is an improbable act. Right around December 22nd, instead of getting darker every day in the northern hemisphere, it gets lighter. The earth shifts, and light becomes the dominant force instead of darkness. That is highly improbable. We wouldn’t have the seasons without it, and yet we don’t see how improbable it is to even have seasons. The reason none of us see any of this, taking it for granted, is because we’re too busy trying to figure out how to acquire things, look strong, control people, and avoid the ones that we can’t! How improbable is it then that there is a strength that has nothing to do with the way in which any human being will ever greet you or perceive you?
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians speaks to this kind of improbability: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty… And then a little further on, one of my favorite passages because of the improbability of what it promises if a person would only have ears to hear: My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
It’s as though a person has to become a child again… that’s how fundamental the spiritual life is.
The way we are now, through a series of conditions and environment, we live with a nature that has produced a wall of resistance to a world that it perceives as being responsible for its pain, and in any given moment, our first task is to not let anybody see us as being weak. So we buy expensive clothes, drive fancy cars, become authorities and have letters after our names, pursuing the things in the world that lend us the power that we so badly think we need in order to not get hurt.
Instead of turning to that nature in the moment where the condition presents itself, we can recognize that’s not the direction of strength. We turn in a new direction. We remember Christ. We remember God. We remember our own wish to be innocent, to be pure, to be harmless, and we choose as best we can to live from that. Do you know what happens when you make a choice like that? You get to see this legion of images, thoughts, and feelings that have collected and crystallized inside of you. You get to see how their presence has been the guiding factor in your life. And according to the clarity by which we begin to discover that what we derived a sense of strength from is weakness itself, we come out from that nature, and we begin to recognize that what we really want is the improbable life.
True strength is so improbable because you never care if anybody knows you have it. If you want that kind of life, if you want the true Christ-life — which is what we are meant to have — it’s already there. That which keeps us from seeing it just needs to be uncovered, washed away. That’s the work. It’s what needs to be done, and if you do it, you will enlist the aid of the source of strength itself. When you are touched by that kind of strength, you will find yourself increasingly incapable of compromising yourself out of false strength.