â€œThe next morning I sat across from Eddieâ€™s father, Leroy Meek. He looked like a bum. His beard was long, his hair was matted, and his eyes were red. He had been fishing the bayou for his sonâ€™s body all night. Leroy began to tell me his story.
â€˜I am a foreman for a large construction company. I did not go to work yesterday due to the flooding. We have eight children. I told them not to go outside to play. But while I took a nap, three of the boys slipped out and made a raft of Styrofoam material and began to float down the bayou. The raft broke up. Two of the boys were able to get out, but Eddie could not get out. The other two raced home and awakened me. I jumped into the pickup truck and sped to the bayou. I tried to reach Eddie, but the concrete sides were steep and the water was rushing and I couldnâ€™t get to him. He was screaming, â€˜Daddy, help me! Help me, I canâ€™t hold on much longer!â€™ â€˜I ran back to the pickup truck and grabbed a rope. Eddie screamed, â€˜Somebody help me! I canâ€™t hold on much longer!â€™ I threw him the rope, but the rope was too short!â€™
As I listened to Leroy, a chill went down my spine. I chocked back tears as I visualized the scene he described. It was like God was speaking to me and showing me the multitudes of hurting people near our church. Like Eddie, they were clinging to whatever they could hold on to. They were crying, â€˜Help me! Somebody help me! I canâ€™t hold on much longer!â€™ And Christians and churches were throwing out ropes, but the ropes were too short to reach the world.
I made arrangements for the funeral and set an appointment to visit the family in their home that afternoon. Dan, our minister of music, and I were the first Christians to enter the Meek home. They had never allowed our bus ministry workers or others from the church in.Â That afternoon the Meeks were open to Christ. All of the things they were confident in had failed. What Leroy wanted and needed from me was to know his Creator. Our best ministry at this point was to respond to their spiritual need for comfort from God.
Leroy said, â€˜Pastor, I have done all kinds of things with my boys. I have taken them fishing, hunting, and camping out, but I have never sat with them in church.â€™
â€˜When the funeral is over, if it is OK, I would like to come back and visit with you about Christ,â€ I responded.â€™â€
As Christians I am assuming that we are throwing ropes to help people (to ignore the plight of a drowning society would be monstrous), so what are the ropes that we are throwing? Are these ropes too short?Â How would we know one way or the other? Do the cries of those being swept away saying, â€œI canâ€™t hold on much longer!â€ keep us awake at night? Do tears of the Father and seeing him trying to help his loved ones stir us to want to help? Are we content with just doing funerals that may have been prevented?
We can change the world around us and make a difference right where we are by throwing a rope that saves â€“ it is not too short. We have been given the â€œministry of reconciliationâ€Â where â€œAll this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.â€ Christ saved us from drowning in sin and despair, he lifted us onto a solid foundation â€“ he saved us.Â But he did not send us into the lighthouse to dry off and get warm. Instead he handed us a flotation circle, and a rope and said go and throw your rope.
As long as we throw out the gospel to people, it is the only means of salvation that will not fall short.Â If we throw programs, buildings, fellowships, come as you are, health and wealth, faith healings, your best now, etcâ€¦ we will continue to see hands slip below the surface.
 Darrell W. Robinson. Total Church Life (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman and Holman, 1997) 11,12
 2 Corinthians 5:18