Daniel Whyte III

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GLMX #149: Invictus or Invictor?

  Broadcast in Christianity

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Have you ever heard this phrase: "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul"? What you may not know is that those two short sentences are the last two lines of a poem by English poet William Ernest Henley titled "Invictus", the Latin word for "invincible" or "unconquerable."

William Henley's poem is a poem of defiance in the face of great odds. At the age of 14, he contracted tuberculosis of the bone. A few years later, the disease progressed to his foot, and physicians announced that the only way to save his life was to amputate his leg directly below the knee. He underwent the amputation when he was just 17. Shortly thereafter, he was told that his other leg would have to be amputated. However, by enlisting the help of another doctor and undergoing intense surgery, he was able to save his other leg. This event, and his determination to live, enjoy, and control his life despite his circumstances, are what led him to write this poem while he was recovering in the hospital. Despite his disability, he survived with one foot intact and led an active life until his death at the age of 53.

Henley felt that he needed to be in control of his life, and he thought that he could control every aspect of his existence including what happened to him after he died. From his words, we see that he did not accept that there was an eternal being whom he could lean on for support in this life and for assurance of his destiny in the life to come. He wanted to be the "master" and "captain" of his entire existence.

However, the Bible tells us in Psalm 103 that we are but "dust." It goes on to say, "As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more." 

+ Plus, listen to Bart Millard singing "Victory in Jesus"
Tags:
invictus
poetry
william ernest henley
defiance
God
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