Dec 212013 0 Responses

Silas, Puff the Magic Dragon, and the Gospel

For many, the story of Christmas is akin to a fairy tale. The see little difference between the story of Santa and that of Jesus. It’s okay for children to believe, but belief is just that—childish. They see themselves as having matured past the immaturity of belief. Yet the Bible shows belief in a different light.

The effects of two kids, little sleep, and twelve years of pastoring might be most evident in my eyes. Wrinkled, often red, rarely wide open, if eyes are the window to the soul, my soul is different than it was a decade ago.

How I see life is different in these old eyes. In some ways it’s a good thing. We call it maturing and it’s a great process. Mature eyes are wise eyes. They can see past the surface and better predict the true nature of things. Having experienced more life, mature eyes aren’t easily fooled. They understand how life works and are more likely to find truth.

Yet, in some ways, my eyes are not mature, they are just old. Old eyes are more skeptical, less prone to excitement, quick to see potential pain or failure. They are less open and more protective. That’s not always maturity. It’s not always a more developed viewpoint of life. Sometimes these characteristics result from the decay of time not the wisdom of having lived. Just because my eyes are getting older does not mean that every change is the result of maturation.


I recognize these old eyes a lot these days because I’m seeing Christmas through another set of eyes.


These are immature eyes. These are eyes that cry when something doesn’t go his way, that see danger when its not there, and can’t see danger when it is present. They are innocent, immature eyes. They are the eyes of my son Silas. (For more on Silas, see: funny, grief, kind)

It’s a short trip between these eyes. Of course, only mature eyes can see the brevity between the two. To immature eyes, it feels like the two are worlds apart. Silas is not sure he’ll ever be as big as me. Through his eyes, life is a never ending journey, but my eyes know better. I know that in a short period of time his bright blue eyes will be a little wrinkled, a little red, and a little dimmed.

The difference between our eyes is striking. We see the world drastically different. This is illustrated at night in our bedtime routine. Every night one of the last things we do before he goes to sleep is to watch a video and sing one his favorite songs. On many nights that song is Puff the Magic Dragon.


Puff the Magic Dragon was written and sung by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary. While the rumor has always been that Puff is about something else, the song was written about the loss of innocence. It was written about the journey from young eyes to old eyes.

The song strikes me because it is about the loss of childhood innocence and every night that we listen to the song Silas has a list of questions about the Dragon. He thinks Puff exists and he wants to know all about him. Meanwhile I understand that a sad day will come in which he will no longer ask questions about Puff because he will get the meaning of the song.

I often lay in bed at night as Silas and I watch the video and sing the song and I find myself not watching my phone, but watching his eyes. I can see in his eyes all the excitement of innocent youth. While I hear a song about lost innocence, he hears a song and sees pictures about a giant dragon and the tales of Jackie Papers. We hear and see the same thing and yet we hear and see them differently.

It would be very easy to say the only difference between my eyes and the eyes of Silas is maturity. I’m mature and he is not.

Yet it’s intriguing to me that whenever I read the New Testament Jesus says that if I want to have faith, I need to have the eyes of Silas. “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus says. Being like children has to do with humility and dependence, but it also has to do with wonder and innocence.

It’s easy to look at the eyes of Silas and say that his eyes are immature, but its also true that my eyes are hardened by sin.

For Silas to know Jesus his eyes have to mature—he needs to grow to know the difference between right and wrong, real and unreal.

For me to know Jesus my eyes have to regain their wonder—the possibility of a place where all is right, a God who loves, is in control, and now has made himself known to us. My old mature eyes say it can’t be. The eyes of Silas are quick to believe. His eyes, not mine, are more like Jesus.

The Gospel

The message of Christmas is unbelievable to so many. Many of them think it’s because they are smarter or more mature so they can see through the foolishness of faith. They say it’s immature to believe in God, foolish to place your trust in Jesus, and bigoted to believe He is the only way to know God.

Yet we hear the message of Christmas and with the eyes of a child we believe it is possible. There is a God. He has made Himself known. He has revealed Himself through Jesus. He has chosen to love us, to come to us, and to be here with us.

There are two ways to see the Christmas story. Just don’t forget that old eyes aren’t necessarily mature eyes. Jesus called us to have the faith and wonder of a child. Only those eyes which are quick to believe will see what is true.

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