My Invictus

invictusWilliam Earnest Henley is best known for his poem Invictus. It was written after one leg was amputated and his other leg was about to go through intensive surgery from complications from tuberculosis. The poem echoes with sounds of “try harder”, “the sky’s the limit”, and concludes with the famous line, “I am the captain of my soul.” I can hear the echoes of Kelly Clarkson’s song Stronger in the background, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stand a little taller…”

No doubt, this life’s journey throws us some serious stuff to have to go through. As Henley writes:

 

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.

 

How do we go through life’s journey? Who do we go through it with? Is our creator in the business of making us stronger in ourselves? Is He in the business of making us stronger in Him and dependent upon Him? There is a world of difference in how we answer these questions.

livestrongIn Lance Armstrong’s battle with cancer the phrase Live Strong was birthed. Nike created yellow Live Strong wristbands to help raise money for cancer. Lance Armstrong’s approach to cancer was Live Strong because “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” I believe Lance missed something valuable in all of this, something sacred. Sadly, William Earnest Henley seemed to have missed it too.

During the time Lance Armstrong fought cancer, I witnessed two other approaches to cancer by Dr. David Jeremiah and John Piper. They answered the above questions differently than Armstrong. John Piper wrote a powerful article right before cancer surgery called, “Don’t Waste Your Cancer.” Dr. David Jeremiah taught about laying in his hospital bed looking at the ceiling and praying to God in his personal “black pit.” It was clear from both Piper and Jeremiah that they were not declaring they were captains of their souls.

psalm18.2I believe life is made to be experienced with the One true captain of my soul. His name is Jesus. He is the creator of my soul, the lover of my soul, and the captain of my soul… all in One. He is not in the business of making me stronger in and of myself. He is in the business of making me dependent on Him. What doesn’t kill me, should make me turn and depend on Him. He is my rock, my fortress, He is… My Invictus.

 

My Invictus

 

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank the One True God,

For being The Conquer of my soul.

 

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I was broken and cried aloud.

Under, what I see, the bully of chance

My head is bloody, but bowed.

 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Shadow of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, Christ keeps me unafraid.

 

It matters not how straight the gate

How charged with punishments the scroll

I know the Master of my fate;

I know the Captain of my soul.

 

May we all Live Strong and “stand taller” in Him.

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One thought on “My Invictus

  1. Jill Barlow says:

    That was awesome!

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