Today I was provoked by an email from a friend. In it she spoke of a poem and a song. The poem Invictus, and the song, My Way. I thought on what she said, and then I looked at the lyrics of both. Please read them for yourself here below.
Evictus was written from a hospital bed. The man had previously had his foot amputated due to tuberculosis of bone. Live lived a productive 30 years after the surgery and died at age 53. It is said that this was written as a demonstration of his resilience following the amputation of his foot due to tubercular infection.
INVICTUS (Unconquered) – William Earnest Henley, written in 1875.
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
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.
Having absorbed these lyrics, do you sense overcoming adversity? Or do you sense defiance? Knowing the author had overcome adversity, do see this as his means of conveying a spirit of travailing over obstacles and a bold declaration of making it? Now look at My Way.
In the late 1960’s Frank Sinatra thought his career was all over, and he wanted to just walk away from everything. His good friend Paul Anka, heard a French song, and borrowed the melody, and wrote these lyrics and presented the song to Sinatra, and it revived his career. Sinatra’s daughter Tina said, “he always thought that song was self-serving and self-indulgent.” You be the judge.
MY WAY – Written by Paul Anka for Frank Sinatra
And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and ev’ry highway
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way
Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course,
each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out I faced it all and I stood tall
and did it my way
I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that And may I say, not in a shy way,
“Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way”
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
and did it my way!
Yes, it was my way
Do you get a mixture of defiance and resignation that at the end, there is little left other than having done all for oneself, and having done it “my way.” Seems empty and sad, no mention of God at all, not even “gods” as in Invictus. Here, at the end of life, only yourself and having your way, to the last breath, silently defiant of Your Maker. At the end of it all, whether God is acknowledged or not, every person ever born faces their Maker. There will be no justifying of “my way” with Him.
Both of these have within it an air of defiance and arrogance and it is a reflection of the spirit of the times we find ourselves in. Our age is marked by a deep self-awareness and an obsession to satisfy the perceived needs of the self, and that spirit of self-actualization has invaded the church. As more and more of the self is fed, more and more of it demands our attention.
Within various streams of Christianity there is a stream where “self-actualization” has usurped the use of spiritual gifts, and now people are discovering their gifts as if they were theirs all along with little regard as to Whom bestowed them and the reason for them in the first place.
The gifts were given for the sake of others, not for self-fulfillment or self-actualization.
When believers confront that issue, they are accused of being judgmental and jealous of others. They are viewed as hindering the move of God and a person’s destiny and purpose. No one seems to be concerned these days about God and His destiny, only about themselves. These two, the poem and the song lyrics look like the embodiment of “another gospel” that Paul speaks of, one that is self-seeking and self-serving, and a total rejection of the biblical gospel of service and sacrifice.
May God open our eyes to the truth of His Gospel, and not the self-seeking, self-actualization forms that now permeate the body of Christ, particularly in the charismatic stream.
Blessings. Going the way of the cross.