As a lead up to the 2018 Invictus Games, The Courier-Mail newspaper published the poem ‘Invictus’ (Unconquered) by Victorian-era poet William Ernest Henley, of which the last stanza reads:
“It matters not how strait [narrow] the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
In context, I understand why those who have been through trauma, trials and tribulations need to feel empowered through rising above their circumstances and triumphing over their problems and difficulties. However, when we look at our lives from God’s eternal omniscient perspective we realise how powerless we really are — all of us, even the able-bodied, those of perfectly sound mind and in excellent physical health. Through a Sunday message the pastor explored how true freedom can only be found through the completed work of Jesus Christ, Who died for us so that we can be made whole (spiritually when we believe in Him, in other ways when He returns). The freedom we consider is not just over physical or mental bondage — it is the moral deliverance from our sins’ chains and the blessed payment of our humanly unpayable debt. We sang ‘The Passion’: “The innocent judged guilty, while the guilty one walks free. Death would be His portion, and our portion liberty.” For Christians to truly embrace this incredible love, to put our faith into action, to acknowledge that God is ultimately in control of our lives, we must surrender ourselves totally to Him. The truth is not that we must stay unconquered by impairments, disabilities, disadvantages or even persecution (in whatever form that may take) — we must face the fact that Christ has conquered death once for all. The most important fact is not that we are unconquered, it’s that Christ is the Conqueror of all that separates us from God for eternity.
The Christian’s narrow way is made harder when we strive to do things on our own, when we think we know better and continue to struggle with the One Who understands all about us through every stage of our respective histories. When we wrest control of our lives from God we are essentially saying that we know better than He does and He doesn’t really know what’s best for us. It also implies that what Jesus has done is insufficient to give us the true freedom we so desperately crave.
I’ve been encouraged by these lines from Lauren Daigle’s ‘Trust in You’:
“Letting go of every single dream I lay each one down at Your feet Every moment of my wanderingNever changes what You see… Your ways are always higher Your plans are always good There’s not a place where I’ll go You’ve not already stood…”
Jesus not only sacrificed Himself for us. Before that He lived as we live — so He understands our struggles, our suffering, our desires, our temptations and our weaknesses. Through the power of the resurrection we can surrender all we are and have to a living Saviour and Lord. We will be made perfect and perfectly free because He is the perfect King. Let the bridge of ‘The Passion’ echo in our hearts and minds, as both a commitment to surrender to the risen Christ as well as a celebration of His tremendous sacrifice:
“I give my whole life to honour this love.
By the Lamb Who was slain, I’m forgiven.
The sinner’s Saviour, crown Him forever.
For the Lamb Who was slain, He is risen.”
Editorial by Andrew Chan