The Crepe Paper Grew Taut
“T-A-U-T. Taut,” he said. I let my imagination follow his words. He continued, “The crepe paper would grow taut…”
I attended a conference this week with colleagues who dedicate themselves to being light in dark places. The speaker to whom I was listening had grown up in a foreign country, though American.
He displayed a photo on the screen and said, “This is in 1947. This group of souls were headed on a boat to China. I am the small one in the plaid coat near the front.”
He went on to name some of the others. Others who had recognizable names and had definitely made this world through the love of Jesus less dark.
I couldn’t pull my gaze away. There weren’t a few on this boat. There were many. Many who said in their hearts, “I dedicate myself to a greater purpose come what may. I believe that nothing is impossible with God.”
Pulling me back from my thoughts, the speaker then said, “As a tradition for those leaving, we would be given streamers of crepe paper to hold in our hands. I remember as a little boy holding the end of a streamer and following it to its end on the shore. The other end was being held by a family member who waved through tears. As the boat began to pull slowly away, the crepe paper would grow taut…and finally break.”
Now I had tears. Lots of them.
Then he smiled, “But…we knew that though we may not see them on these shores again, we would ultimately see them on the Other Shore.”
What confidence! What hope!
These folks were on a literal slow boat to China. Their clothes were sometimes packed in coffins because they didn’t expect to live longer than a year upon arrival due to disease. I’m upset when my airline frequent flier card won’t get me into the “nice” lounge thus making my 2-day flight a little less comfortable and this passenger a bit more irritable. (I’m shaking my head at myself even as I type this.)
More than their dedication and tenacity which took them through wars, disease, famine and hostile governments, I marvel at the confidence in which they placed themselves as coins in the Father’s hand and simply said, “Spend me.”
No terms. No long list of demands. Simple, pure, yet incredibly profound trust in a Good Father who is true to His word.
So…they went. They went in confidence and brought hope to a land so desperately in need of good news.
The little hand which held the crepe paper streamer on his way to a foreign land so long ago now leads a group of dedicated souls who yearn to continue this legacy.
The crepe paper streamer stretches to me. Though it grows taut, I can have confidence in Jesus and His promises as the boat pulls away.
After all, hope has no borders.