About a trillion centuries
Before the world was made, and seas
Of deep and empty space were not
Yet there to make an endless spot
For nothingness, nor Gabriel,
Nor Lucifer, nor flames of hell,
Nor beasts and elders round the throne,
But only God the Lord alone—
No element of any kind,
Nor measurement, but only Mind—
Ages before the Lord employed
His sovereign power to make a void
Beside the vastness of his will,
When there was only God to fill
The mind of God with joy and He
Was Life, and absolutely free...
The Father fixed his gaze on me,
Foreknew my soul that I should be
At first ashamed before his face,
And then a vessel for his grace;
And in the Holy Trinity
Engaged a glad conspiracy
Of love that all the energy
Of God should be employed to see
That I, when all his work is done,
Would bear the image of his Son.
And I indeed have been ashamed
For awesome things that I have named
A sham. Once in Ms. Clanton's class
A group of us with ample brass
Announced our sure and reasoned scheme:
"Predestination is a dream
Of Presbyterians misled
By Calvin who had lost his head
And killed a man for heresy
Back in the sixteenth century."
And I pursued their praise with zest . . .
. . . As though a bird should curse the air
Beneath its wing, and fish compare
The ocean to a grave, the ant
Should lift its mighty voice and rant
Against the earth with pride obsessed,
And infants rail against the breast.
And O, the shame, the shame of those
Presumptuous years to one who knows
Far better now. Had not the gaze
Of God affixed itself with rays
Of mercy on my unborn soul,
And burned my name into the scroll
Of life, there would have been no cause
That all my proud and ugly flaws
Should be pursued with mercy all
O God of great and small,
O God of free and sovereign grace,
How great and wonderful your ways,
Ordaining all before its days!
To you alone be endless praise!
Come, meet us in this season bright!
We glorify your holy might,
And give the name to candle one:
Foreknown and destined in the Son.