One of my first pastoral calls as a new minister was on an older gentleman who was in recovery after major surgery. Like many of the Greatest Generation, he ‘had never been sick a day in my life.” He volunteered that he had always lived by the poem Invictus, with its famous words, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
This puzzled me, because in that moment, he was hooked up to all kinds of machines, some pumping liquids into him, and some pumping them out. For the hour or so I was with him, he wasn’t even master of his bed pan.
Reciting Invictus is a way for us to maintain the illusion that we really are the master of our fate. Living in a country with so much freedom and wealth contributes to the illusion for many. If you go through life healthy, from one success to the next, there may be nothing to challenge the illusion.
But for most, there eventually comes a time when you’re flat on your back. The loss of control can seem worse than the crisis itself.
But there’s good news.
The Apostle Paul said that God was pleased to have “all his fullness dwell in Jesus Christ,” so that “in everything, he might have the supremacy.”
When we finally admit that we’re not masters of our fate, that’s when Jesus Christ can step in and do some of his best work.
God never meant for us to be the captain of our soul. That’s why he sent us his Son.