By Andrew Greenhalgh, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral
shutting out the noise
Do you know this poem?
“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.”
It’s the final verse from Invictus by William Ernest Henley.
It’s one of those soul-stirring poems that are much beloved of sportsmen and women, motivational speakers and film directors.
It sounds good when spoken over some quietly emotional classical music at the end of feel-good films about overcoming adversity.
There’s only one problem with it.
It’s not true.
I am not the master of my fate. Or the captain of my soul.
That would be God.
If there’s one thing I have learned in my 48 years on this planet (I know, I know, I don’t look a day over 47 and a half) it’s that I need to put God in charge of everything.
Yes, He wants to grant us the desires of our hearts, but He knows a lot better than we do about what’s best for us.
That’s a side issue.
What I really wanted to write about is what we allow to get into our heads.
Invictus sounds good and isn’t blatantly non-Christian. But the fact is, it’s a very worldly way of thinking and goes against what we should believe as Christians.
The world has very different values to God’s.
Not only will the world tell you that you’re in charge of your fate, but that your happiness is more important than anything else, and that having sex before marriage is not only acceptable but important.
It’s all what I would call a load of bobbins.
The fact is, though, that we are surrounded by this kind of stuff on a daily basis. Social media is packed with it and whole films and TV series are made about it.
But that doesn’t make it true.
The important thing – for me, at least – is to make sure that I don’t listen to it.
I know how important it is for me to keep an eye on what goes into my head. I’ve had to stop listening to any kind of music with swearing in it because I know that that language then creeps into my vocabulary.
Doing that is relatively straightforward – there’s an explicit filter on Spotify which I make very good use of.
It’s not so easy with the kind of stuff that the world has decided is fine but actually isn’t.
How do we turn on an explicit filter for the world? That’s not so easy.
Cutting ourselves off from the world would be one route but then we wouldn’t be able to bring others to the Lord.
The answer, as ever, is God.
We need to ask Him to help us recognise the nonsense that we all get bombarded with on a daily basis and reject it for what it is. Nonsense.
That’s not easy either, but with God’s help nothing is impossible, right?
Andrew Greenhalgh of Jubilee Church Wirral