Master and Captain
“Therefore, He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him Hebrews 7:25
“’As captain of the host of the Lord am I now come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto Him, ‘What does my Lord say to His servant.’ Joshua 5:14 (KJV)
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 yet 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.
(William Earnest Henley, Invictus)
Many an English teacher have had their pupils memorize this famous poem, perhaps for its notoriety, but more perhaps to embolden their spirit toward self-confidence and the courage to prevail in life’s storms with one’s own erroneously perceived strength. Yet human captains have proven to be perilously flawed, most particularly me, myself, and I. St. Augustine, one of the great self-analytics of his own soul, said in conclusion, “What am I to myself but a guide to my own self-destruction. We have many a recent example of those who have unwittingly entrusted their lives to human captains who have served them poorly, even disastrously. The South Korean ferry boat captain for over 300 high school students, by error and negligence sent most of those teenagers to an early, watery grave. An Italian cruise ship captain for thousands capsized his vessel on a jagged rock, all to impress his young mistress. The captain of a Malaysian jet airliner was unable to save the lives of his 238 passengers; the plane is now thought to lie somewhere on the very deep seafloor of the southern Indian Ocean. Or is it a “hero in the music world or a Hollywood star or a Washington politician you look to captain your direction in life? As the alleged captain of our own soul, we often choose to entrust ourselves to many a flawed human captain who proves unable to pilot you and yours to a successful end. They will always disappoint!
The Scriptures reveal an extraordinary Captain who “is able to save to the uttermost those who entrust their soul to God through Him. Just last Sunday we celebrated the truth that this Captain burst the bands of death, which have always had the victory over every human captain who ever lived; and which promises in experience and observation a physical death will in future days be victorious over you as well. The poem Invictus describes a world view of most humanity, that each individual is truly the master of his fate and captain of his soul; but to those who have a radically different world-view, a world-view which believes Jesus Christ is their true Captain, upon closer observation find it is not always true in daily practice. All too often you may say you believe Jesus is the Captain of your soul, but you live as though in practice it is YOUR job and responsibility.
If you claim Jesus is Captain of your soul, what would such look like in practice? It is more often the case you are in a daily wrestling match with who in fact is going to be captain; and self often wins out! (See what Paul says about this in Romans 7:14-25) A true captain is one to whom you pledge allegiance and obedience come hell or high water. You acquaint yourself regularly with his marching orders prior to moving out in the day. You consult with him and his word often to insure you are on his trajectory and haven’t succumbed to a rabbit trail of your own making. You recognize you are incapable of blazing your own trail, or have the strength to maintain his. You experience daily the motivation of the Apostle Paul, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10) You may entrust your life to an airline pilot, to a cruise ship captain, to a taxi cab driver, or even your spouse behind the wheel, when you have given over your whole day to your true Captain; you have prayed for and then followed his guidance in laying out the parameters and priorities of your day; parameters and priorities which will bring him glory and you obedience. In his will your fulfillment is his pleasure. If it is to remain until he comes, so be it; if it is to go to his side, so be it. Like his mother Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant. Be it unto me according to your word…. My soul magnifies the Lord. (Luke 1:38 and 46) So even if you end up at the bottom of the ocean because of a flawed human captain you are very much in His hands, who knows the path you take, as you purposefully entrust your way and life into your Captain’s control.
He IS the Master of my fate, the Captain of my soul; consequently, I will not be ashamed.
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