It was a place off limits to curious fingers that broke vases, and feet that tracked mud. The formal living room, where at times parents and guests would talk. I remember sitting in the stairwell leading up to this sacred place, in my footie PJ’s, listening to the radio play. Where I was in the den was a different world, a field stone fireplace prominent on one end, paneled cedar, and open bay windows, a good, safe place filled with train sets, Lincoln Logs and toy soldiers. But all that sat idle as I strained my ears for a trace of sound, something my heart wished for, and then suddenly…there it was. Puff the Magic Dragon on the radio, and my mother’s voice floating down the narrow passage.
“Kevin, you can come up and listen to your song.”
In no time I was on my daddy’s lap, humming along with Peter, Paul & Mary’s harmonic voices, about a little boy named Jackie Paper, and lost innocence that broke a dragon’s heart.
Why did my mother call me upstairs that evening? Simple. She knew my favorite song was on the air. Sitting with my dad inscribed what I would later know as favor onto my heart. At the time, it just felt good, knowing my siblings were in the den, pretending to play, yet simmering with jealousy.
Do you feel like a favored child to God? Psalm 23 says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” A table set just for two. He invites us to dine with him, in the face of our enemy. Imagine for a moment what you might hear your heavenly father say to the father of lies, to silence his continuous accusations.
‘Look how my children come to me when the air is still, and silence thick. See how he bends his body in broken adoration, and still more, how she picks up flat ware to dig into the plate I’ve prepared for her, deep abiding joy filling her heart, and something unexplainable escaping their lips, a kind of mirth that children possess when they absently play alone. They rest in my lap, I am daddy, and their favorite song is playing, it’s my voice singing over them with joy, because they have chosen to be here.’
The memory of being held in my father’s lap, listening to Puff the Magic Dragon, is a metaphor, a hopeful vision for what awaits us every day. Yet, the song has a tragic undertone captured in the words; “Dragons live forever, but not so little boys, painted wings and giants rings make way for other toys.” Jackie Paper grew up, and grew out of his imagination. We can to, in our relationship with God. When we lose our innocence, that’s when we cease to hear the roar of the father’s joy over us, and the table set for two becomes a lonely vigil for God, who wants only and always his children to come and sit at table. Jesus said, “don’t stop the children from coming to me, for to such belong the kingdom of heaven.” Does your heart cry, Abba?
Dragons are imaginary, but God is not. He sits at a table set for two, and waits for us, because He wants little boys and girls in heart, to stay innocent, and feel favored.
Jesus said, “Come to me…”
Listen, can you hear?
If you wait, you just might hear your name being called. In that moment, you’ll leave your toys idle, and find yourself bounding toward a favored place, to join Another humming your song.