Behind the Poem: “Innocence Lost, Glory Gained”

Click here to read “Innocence Lost, Glory Gained,” posted January 26, 2012.

The Meaning
A little boy stares up at me with probing brown eyes. In a moment I catch a glimpse of the shift that has begun to take place in his bright, young mind. He’s beginning to see the world for what it is. And as you and I know, the world is not always a pretty place—but he’s just figuring that out. And just as you once experienced but have probably forgotten, such a realization can be devastating to a child.

Maybe the other fourth graders have stopped wanting to sit by him at lunch because they’re starting to see that he’s just a little different from the rest. Perhaps his parents are fighting more than ever and he’s not able to drown out their shouting like he used to. It could be his sister tried to kill herself a few days back, and he’s been suddenly faced with realities that he could not, a week ago, even fathom existed. (I wish all those examples were hypothetical. You learn a lot about life from third and fourth graders.)

Staring back into his big brown eyes, I can only weep on the inside, for I see what he doesn’t see. I see what his parents and his classmates and his sister don’t see. I see that life is only going to get harder, especially for this boy, of this socio-economic class, in this racist world, living in this godless and therefore hopeless society. From my vantage point a little bit farther down the road, I can see that this instance is only the first of many run-ins with reality that will leave his head spinning.

And it makes you want to cry. It makes you want to take this precious little boy home and shelter him from every horror that’s out there.

And then this thought hits me upside the head: In my own life it has been amid realizations of the harsh realities that exist around me that Jesus has whispered most clearly, “Nevertheless, I’m here, and I’m sure. I’ll be your rock in a very shaky world.” And doing the only logical thing my mind can conjure up, I cling to him in utter, helpless faith. And he saves me.

It may be that this brown eyed boy has a long, hard road ahead of him. And he may be on the very cusp of realizing that fact. Yet it might just be that this long, hard road was designed by this child’s Creator—who, by the way, loves him infinitely more than I ever could—to eventually lead him to Jesus. Perhaps it’s only through the hardship that this little boy will think to seek out the one who promises to carry him through like nothing else in the universe can. Maybe only up against the ugliness of life will this little boy ever be able to clearly see the beauty of the Jesus he so desperately needs.

May God be faithful to work it out to such an end.

The Technical
This poem doesn’t follow any traditional form. It is written in iambic quadrameter consisting of rhymed couplets. That means that each line has eight syllables that generally follow the pattern ta-DUM-ta-DUM-ta-DUM-ta-DUM. That the poem consists of rhymed couplets means that every two lines rhyme with each other.

The first 22 lines describe the changes that take place as a child grows up. The next four lines act as a commentary on the first 22 lines and a bridge to the next 22 lines. In the second half of the poem I discuss the difficult truth that it is confrontation with the harshness of reality that many times drives one to Jesus, and if that’s the case for my student, may it be so. God will be good to him as he has been to me.

Praise the Lord for the hope that’s found only in Jesus, hope that is seen most clearly when all other hope is lost.

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