They say a roll of duct tape fell into his crib when he was ten months old, and it became the play toy that placated him more than any other.
His nick name was Raz, and though slow of understanding and reason, he grew over the years to be much treasured by the community in which he lived. Whenever Raz frequented the streets, he always had a roll of duct tape. Duct tape was long the signature of his persona.
With duct tape, he attempted to show love and concern for others. Raz believed duct tape could fix anything broken, which he pointedly associated with the love of Jesus. He always seemed at the right place and time to provide duct tape for necessary applications.
“Duct tape can fix that just like the love of Jesus!” he would say while peeling a piece to give someone. Neighborhood kids appreciated Raz, for they depended on Raz for that piece of duct tape to repair their cracked whiffle balls and bats, or their broken toys. Minor car problems were fixed with the duct tape he supplied. There were incidents, too, when he would lightly stick a piece on someone’s sleeve, especially when one looked tired, or tense, which would evoke a smile or gesture of emotional release. Duct tape from Raz seemed indeed to have a fixing affect on many—-just like the love of Jesus.
It was during the Christmas season one cold December that Raz was extra generous with his tape. When it was suggested he might run out duct tape if he did not quit dispensing so freely, Raz responded knowingly, “This is Raz’s last roll of duct tape,” which puzzled people to hear him say it.
The unfortunate side of the Christmas season involves pressures people superimpose on themselves concerning perceived materialistic and emotional burdens. When the Christ of Christmas is not uplifted in the human heart, the human experience sometimes plunges one into the depths of despair.
Lena was such a depressed individual one night a week before Christmas as she passed Raz, who was on his way home. Raz immediately tried to stick his symbolic piece of tape to her sleeve, but she waded it up into her coat pocket, and said, “No, Raz. Duct tape can’t fix me right now.”
With each step, Lena mentally cite a litany of bitter reasons for fixing her way out of life. Resolve was so strong that there was no hesitation as she plunged from the nearby bridge into the freezing river waters.
As she attempted to relent to the icy current, as well to the chill of death, she was suddenly swaddled with rounds of duct tape around her torso. Raz had followed Lena into the water, and quickly wrapped enough duct tape to affix her arms to her sides. Doling out the rest of the roll, he struggled back to the shallows, and held Lena in tow till the current angled her to the point her he could grab her to safety. Others soon gathered to provide their assistance.
It is uncanny how a savior makes the ultimate sacrifice for the one needing to be saved. As it turned out, Raz immediately became grievously ill from the time he spent in the water. His funeral was on Christmas day. The whole town turned out.
The Preacher put things into perspective when he said, “With his last roll of duct tape, Raz poignantly showed us how the love of God was willing to dive into the dire affairs of mankind through the birth of Christ to repair eternally relationship with God. While duct tape can’t fix that, the love of Jesus has.”
It was a sight to behold as Raz’s casket was lowered into the ground. Hundred of pieces of duct tape were affixed to it by the people. But, it was Lena’s little piece of wadded tape, stuck on top, that was probably the most prominent.
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.