Who Is the Master of Your Fate?

"Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

James the brother of Jesus makes a point here that is increasingly ignored in our culture. We live in a country that idolizes autonomy and independence very easily; not to mention these things are in our very nature as fallen human beings. We like to depend on ourselves because that is where we are in control. It's much harder to walk by faith and say "if the Lord wills, I will do this or that." Given that our lives are but a vapor against the backdrop of eternity, we should really have no certainty in our own abilities within this short life, since we don't know what tomorrow will bring. This begs the question of how we will spend our short lives: will you live to trust yourself or to trust the Lord?

Consider the contrast of the below two poems to help you ponder what each path looks like:

William Henley’s poem "Invictus"-- which was also terrorist Timothy McVeigh’s last words:

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.

In the early part of the 20th Century, activist Dorothy Day responded to Henley’s manifesto with this poem that she titled, “Conquered”:

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 the 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,
That, spite the menace of the years,
Keeps, and will keep me unafraid.

 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!

So on this Tuesday that could be the last Tuesday ask yourself, who is the master of your fate? Who is the captain of your soul? It’s either you or Jesus, but it cannot be both.

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