I stand on the edge of circumstances I cannot control. There are so many situations I am powerless to fix. Every day I encounter difficult realities I cannot change.

I peer over the edge of a dark abyss and fear I may be overwhelmed by the swirling chaos.

Jesus said,

Blessed are the poor. (Luke 6:20)

I do not want to be poor. I do not want to confront the limitations of my capacity to make life work. I seek to avoid seeing the reality of my limitations.

There are good reasons the super-hero fantasy is so compelling. I long to run “Faster than a speeding bullet!” I wish to be “More powerful than a locomotive!” and to have the ability “to leap tall buildings at a single bound!” I want to be strong, capable, smart, and in control. I seek to appear competent and proficient.

The Greek word in Luke 6:20 that is translated “poor” is ptō-kho’s. It can refer to material poverty, but covers far more territory than just not having enough money in the bank. To be ptō-kho’s is to lack  influence, position, or honour. It means being lowly, afflicted, powerless, and needy.

I spend my life trying to avoid being ptō-kho’s. And yet, ptō-kho’s is the condition Jesus prescribes as essential to being “blessed.”

I am “blessed” when I am ptō-kho’s because, whether I acknowledge it or not, ptō-kho’s is reality. And true blessing is only possible when I am willing to live in reality.

Super-heroes are not “blessed.” No matter how smart, strong, or skilled I may be, human control is an illusion. There will always be circumstances that fall outside my capacity to force life into conformity with my will.

Jesus also said,

Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:23)

To be “a rich person” has nothing necessarily to do with material abundance. I am a “rich person” when I am able to avoid facing the reality of my poverty. I am “rich,” in a way that obstructs my ability to “enter the kingdom of heaven,” when, due to my talent, strength, or determination, I can live for a time in the illusion of my own power to make life work.

I cling to the fantasy of being “a rich person” because I lack trust in the reality of “the kingdom of heaven.”

To enter the “kingdom of heaven” is to be conscious that there is a Divine Presence at the heart of all existence who is the purpose, meaning, and true longing of my life.

I do not in fact want to be in control. What I truly want is to experience the depth and beauty that reside beneath the surface chaos that so often drives me to flee to the illusion that I can cause life to conform to my needs, wants and desires. The deepest longing of my life is not control but the experience of that steady strong secure place that is not shaken even when I am not in control.

In Christian tradition, we call this reality “the kingdom of heaven,” or the presence of Christ. Paul declared,

I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

So I can sit with my poverty. I can stop and be still in the eye of my weakness. It is right here at the heart of my vulnerability that I touch the abiding strength of Christ in my life.

 

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