DayBreaks for 09/29/11 – If We’re the Master, Hope Dies With Us
This is what the LORD says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. – Jeremiah 17:6
The English poet William Ernest Hensley wrote these words, the poem Invictus:
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.
Really? Master of my fate? Captain of my soul? Is that really all that good, even if it were true?
There’s a book I’ve not read, but which I think I might, called The Year of Magical Thinking. It was written by Joan Didion, and it is her attempt at making sense of the sudden death of her author husband, John Gregory Dunne. They had been at the hospital where their only child was in a coma (the child would die the next year). They had just settled down at the table for dinner when John died of a massive heart attack.
The title of the book describes her growing awareness of how she kept behaving as if her husband would come back. She imagined that if she could just find out enough information about how he died, it would change things. Or, if she kept some of his clothing, he’d come back and use them again. If she stayed at home, that he’d come home and they’d share the same bed together again. Of course, she knew it wouldn’t happen, but those irrational thoughts kept running through her head in her attempt to change the fact that death seemed to have the final word.
In the end, she concludes that we are all powerless, suggesting that our lives are lived out above a frayed safety net that we’ve constructed with our imagined control over life and the things that happen in it. Sadly, the last line in her book is a reference to one of Jesus’ teachings, but her conclusion was that “no eye is on the sparrow.” Here’s the point: if we really are Master of the Game, and if she’s right, then when we die, our hopes die, too. But, if there is another Master, a far better Master, then there is also a better hope than what we have if left to control things ourselves.
PRAYER: We need so much more trust in You, Lord, and much less in ourselves! Forgive our arrogance and haughtiness to think we are master of our own souls! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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