ODJ: captain of my soul?

February 11, 2015 

READ: Psalm 51:1-19 

You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God (v.17).

As Timothy McVeigh faced execution for a terrorist act that killed 168 people, he released as his last statement the well known poem Invictus. It says in part, “I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul,” and concludes with these lines:

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.

The author, William Ernest Henley, was a likable man. But it’s clear that he didn’t seek assistance from his Creator, and that same kind of lone-wolf spirit resonated a century later in the dark heart of an unrepentant terrorist.

What if McVeigh the terrorist had turned his face towards Christ like the thief on the cross, who said: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom”? (Luke 23:42). What if McVeigh had chosen the poetry of another man—King David—a man who was also a murderer?

The king poured out his broken emotions to the God who forgives: “I recognise my rebellion; it haunts me day and night” (Psalm 51:3). David had arranged the murder of Uriah to conceal his adultery. Eventually he would commit more sins—one that resulted in the death of thousands of his subjects (see 2 Samuel 24:10-16). But David turned towards God in genuine repentance, saying to Him, “I am the one who has sinned and done wrong! . . . Let your anger fall against me and my family” (v.17). David was imperfect, and yet Scripture calls him “a man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14).

Though our heavenly Father yearns for our affection, He never forces it. We can raise a defiant fist of independence against Him. Or we can look to the One who died to save us from ourselves and from our many sins. He leaves the choice to us. —Tim Gustafson

365-day plan› Exodus 15:22-27; 17:1-7

Read about David’s sin of self-sufficiency, God’s punishment of it and David’s repentance in 2 Samuel 24:1-17. 
How does it work to have a healthy independence and yet be fully dependent on God? What happens when you defy God and act as the captain of your soul? 
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