Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” The right road, the narrow way as Jesus calls it, is God’s plan for our lives. We have two choices; follow God’s plan or not follow God’s plan. His plans include what he wants us to do and what he doesn’t want us to do. That’s what Psalm 1 is all about. It’s a song acknowledging His rightful reign in our lives in contrast to those who do not. We delight in His instructions and meditate on them in order to humbly submit ourselves to them. They laugh at his instructions. We follow in His ways (roads). They follow their own desires and reject accountability to anyone. We honor God as creator and sustainer of all life. They deny His existence and make themselves the gods of their lives.

The recent movie “Invictus” starring Morgan Freeman as Mandela and Matt Damon has revived an interest in the poem by the same name. Although I’ve heard the movie is inspiring, it’s well to notice that this poem was the hallmark verse for the Humanist manifesto! It’s the epitome of man’s rejection of the one true God with rights over all life and of man’s desire to be totally independent of His direction. Mandela quotes from the poem, but not its context. You’ve all heard it: “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”

It rejects the notion of our God and asserts man in God’s place. First verse: “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.” Everything happens by chance. There is not loving God to direct us. 2nd Verse: “In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed.” There is nothing beyond this life. 3rd verse: “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 asserts independence from God and God’s direction in all human life. 4th verse: “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!”

On the night of Tim McVeigh’s execution in 2001 for his role in the death of all those in the Oklahoma City bombing, he did not speak, but he did provide a written statement. It was a copy of “Invictus,” which concludes with the lines: “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”

Henley, the author of Invictus, represents one road of life. Dorthea Day wrote a Christian version of that poem. She represents the other road of life. It says, “ Out of the night that dazzles me, Bright as the sun from pole to pole, I thank the God I know to be For Christ the conqueror of my soul. Since His the sway of circumstance, I would not wince nor cry aloud. Under that rule which men call chance My head with joy is humbly bowed. Beyond this place of sin and tears That life with Him! And His the aid, Despite the menace of the years, Keeps, and shall keep me, unafraid. I have no fear, though strait the gate, He cleared from punishment the scroll. Christ is the Master of my fate, Christ is the Captain of my soul.

Memory Verse: Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. (Psalm 1:1)