October 1998 – In 1987,my dad decided to buy a boat. I don’t exactly remember what prompted this decision, but boating is something the whole family could enjoy – even if you don’t like to ski – so I think that’s the reason he had the idea. Not wanting to go all out for a new boat, we began to watch the want ads for used boats.
One Saturday morning there appeared an ad for a 1977 Glastron ski boat in “excellent condition.” The owner lived about 50 miles from Tupelo, so dad, my brother Mark (eight years my junior), and I drove down that morning to take a look at this boat said to be in “excellent condition.” The owner, a farmer, made dad a really good price and we bought it.
The following Saturday we took this fine “new” boat out on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway to show her off. Let loose that Mercury 150 and blow past any ski boats, sail boats, or paddle boats that dared to challenge us.
Also, I was looking forward to a boat which could pull me straight up out of the water instead of my friend’s small fishing boat which we had tried to rig up into what amounted to a redneck surprise. We didn’t have much money, but we had fun and we had a boat with rope, my friends and I. Pitiful little motor though.
But this boat of ours was nice. Despite the fact that it was 10 years old, it was in good condition. As far as the looks go anyway.
Well, we got out into the middle of the waterway. Dad was driving and Alison, Mark, and I were waiting for a good place to ski or ride the inner tube. Man, this baby was humming. It was cutting across the water looking good. Once we found a good spot, we stopped and Mark jumped onto the tube and we put some rope between him and the boat. We were excited. Here we were on the waterway with our own ski boat. Feeling kind of proud and puffy, I have to be honest with you. Dad pulled the rope tight and Mark gave him the big thumbs up.
“Let’s do it!” yelled Mark with a big grin.
“Hit it!” I relayed to dad.
Dad pushed the throttle forward. We were starting to move. Ten, 15, now 20 miles an hour. We continued to gain speed,we were all smiles, when all of a sudden there came a loud cracking sound from the rear of our fine ski boat that was in“excellent condition.” Dad pulled back the throttle as Alison went to see what had caused the noise. As I pulled up the little skirt that separated the gas tanks from the passengers I immediately recognized two major problems: 1) The wooden back panel of the boat was cracking open; and 2) Huge amounts of water were gushing into our “fine new” ski boat which was in “excellent condition.”
It was clear that if this continued for a couple more minutes our “fine new” ski boat would be at the bottom of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway – in “excellent condition.”
“Get to shore or we’re gonna sink!”I yelled to Dad, who himself saw the huge cracks in the rear hull.
All the while Mark was looking at us unable to hear what all the commotion was about because the Mercury 150 was still running.
“Untie Mark! We don’t have time to pull him in,” Alison told me. So all Mark could see was me taking his rope off the boat, throwing it off into the water, and then us speeding away. You should have seen the perplexed, dumbfounded look on his face. As we moved swiftly away I tried to yell something at him, but I knew he couldn’t understand a word I said. He jumped up on his knees and threw his hands into the air. We were leaving my baby brother out in the middle of the waterway all alone.
We raced to the shoreline and were able to pull the boat out of the water before it sank. As long as we were moving fast, it wasn’t taking on water.
Our new ski boat looked great to the casual eye. It was sleek and smooth. The motor purred. But on the inside it was rotten. So rotten that when the first real test of strength came along it ripped apart from the inside out.
I thought about that boat the other day. I thought about how America is a lot like it. The President of the United States has proven to be a serial adulterer and pathological liar. He cannot be trusted. He has no character. And yet,when I look at the polls and surveys, I get the real sense that most Americans don’t see anything wrong with his behavior or they just flat don’t care. They say the economy is good, so what?
Yes,when you look at America,the economy is doing very well. We are the most affluent and most educated people in the history of the world. Who among us goes hungry? And yet, we have lost our moral compass. We no longer know right from wrong or – perhaps worse – we no longer care. We are rotting from within while we think we are so strong.
It is really discouraging when I hear Americans choosing money over morality.I would not wish financial calamity on anyone, but if we continue to mock God’s laws, we shouldn’t be surprised when he judges our nation, perhaps with economic hard times. It seems today, money has become our god.
We desperately need to return to the true God – repair the widening cracks on our boat before we take on too much water and it’s too late.