From the Garden of Eden to the present, God has given us the privilege of choice. We can embrace Him or rebel against Him. The choice is ours. The consequences are not. Many folks who dutifully darken the door of a church each week live lives of obdurate, secretive rebellion against the Lover of their soul. William Henley, a cripple since childhood, one of the early humanists, penned these defiant words in 1849. His is the quintessential statement of a life centered on self. A life in rebellion against God:
Out of the night that covers me, black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance my head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.
A century later, Dorothea Day answered Henleys Invictus with this lovely poem entitled, My Captain:
Out of the light that dazzles me, bright as the sun from pole to pole,
I thank the God I know to be for Christ the conqueror of my soul.
Since His the sway of circumstance, I would not wince nor cry aloud.
Under that rule which men call chance my head with joy is humbly bowed.
Beyond this place of sin and tears that life with Him! And His the aid,
Despite the menace of the years, keeps, and shall keep me, unafraid.
I have no fear, though straight the gate, He cleared from punishment the scroll,
Christ is the Master of my fate, Christ is the Captain of my Soul.1
In life we have the choice to captain our own ship or surrender to the Captain of our soul. Both choices have temporal and eternal consequences. Consider wise old Solomon: They [who] rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected themmust eat the bitter fruit of living their own way. They must experience the full terror of the path they have chosen. For they are simpletons who turn away from meto death. They are fools, and their own complacency will destroy them. But all who listen to me will live in peace and safety, unafraid of harm." (Pro. 1:30-33 NLT)
Two paths. Two consequences.
QUESTION: Which path are you really choosing?
1 Dorothea Day, My Captain, in The Best Loved Poems of the American People, selected by Hazel Felleman (Garden City, N. Y.: Garden City Books, 1936), 73,74