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Yesterday I was reading William Ernest Henley’s famous poem ‘Invictus’. The final verse sent a chill through my bones: ‘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.’ I thought to myself, “William Henley, is this your own worldview, or are you writing about the worldview of a crazy man? For anyone who can speak such proud words in the face of their Maker is not a hero but a lunatic!”

In fact, he is a twice-crazy man. Once, for seriously underestimating what it means to stand before God when the scroll is opened and the accounting of our lives begins. And twice, for turning away from the only One who can speak to the charges on the scroll; the One whose head was bloodied by soldier fists, and by a crown of thorns, and then bowed in death to conquer sin and to redeem our lives from the Pit.

O Invictus you are a fool, and no inspiration to me; and how I wish that your heart had been more humble, and that you had known more of your Maker’s love and grace, and that your story had been told this way: ‘Out of the night that covers me / Black as the Pit from pole to pole / I know a God who bled for me / To ransom and redeem my soul.’

DM 13th August 2019


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