I was part of a church on the Gulf Coast when God sent a spirit of renewal in the midst of terrible personal tragedy. A fourteen-year-old boy named Eddie had been drowned in the nearby bayou during a torrential rain the week before.
Though we missed the main force of the hurricane that spawned the downpour, the waters of every bay and inlet were up and raging. Eddie and his brothers had constructed a raft of Styrofoam and were floating in the rushing waters of the bayou. As they approached the spillway, the raft broke up. Two of the boys made it out of water in spite of the steep concrete banks. But Eddie could not get out. He clung to a piece of Styrofoam from the raft, calling for help.
The other boys ran home to tell their dad, Leroy. Leroy jumped into his pickup truck and raced to the bayou. With Eddie floating just out of reach, Leroy ran back to the truck and got a rope. “I threw him the rope, but the rope was too short,” Eddies dad lamented. “And I saw my boy go over the spillway into the deep waters below. We found his body about three oclock the next morning.”
When Leroy told me the heartrending story, I was seated across a desk from him at the funeral home. A chill went down my spine and tears came to my eyes as I visualized the boy screaming, “Help me, somebody help me! I cant hold on much longer!” I could see not only Eddie, but the unbelieving multitudes of our city and the world clinging in desperation to some fragile thread of hope. I could see us as Christians throwing out ropesropes too short to reach our world in this day.