By ROB WILSON
Lamar First Christian Church
Kansas City, Mo.-In 1856 the Steamboat Arabia sank suddenly in the Missouri River near Kansas City, after striking a submerged tree. All 130 persons survived but over 200 tons of merchandise was lost including dishware, china, guns, medicines, fabric, tools, cookware, bottled food and other items destined for the wild frontier.
Fortunately for those on board the Arabia sank in only 12 feet of water. The upper deck remained above water long enough to evacuate the nervous passengers who waited for the steamer’s single lifeboat to ferry them to the safety of the riverbank. The only thing left was all that valuable cargo. In time the mud of the Missouri River would claim all that merchandise as its own.
Stories were swapped between the startled passengers of the Arabia. A written account of the Arabia’s sinking told of one man who risked life and limb to get his mule to safety. According to the man he cut the mule’s reins that were tethered to some sawmill equipment on the deck. He then tried to push his mule off into the water so that his mule might live. He said that his mule stubbornly stayed on the deck.
Over a period of years the river changed course and floods deposited silt and debris over the top of the wreck.
In 1988, after consulting old river maps and using a sophisticated metal detector, David Hawley of Kansas City located the wreck over one-half mile from the present channel and 45 feet under a Kansas farmer’s cornfield. On November 13, 1988, the Hawley family began their excavation. The Hawley’s completed their dig in February, 1989. Nearly all the cargo was recovered, as well as the one remaining engine, the boilers and other items. All of this can be seen today at the Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City, Mo.
The bones of the drowned mule were uncovered on December 9. Saddled and with the bit still in his mouth, his reins were still tied to the sawmill equipment. Over 100 years later the mule made a donkey out of its owner. It’s always just a matter of time before your lie will find you out.
Isn’t it funny how we think that, as in the case of the Arabia mule, there is no way someone is going to find out the truth? The guy who lied had no idea that the truth would be discovered 130 years later. He thought his secret was safe at the bottom of the river. And what motivated him to lie in the first place? To save face? To pretend to be heroic? To have people not think less of him for abandoning his mule?
Being honest with God, ourselves and others is the first step to cutting the reins of sin in our lives; to set us free from death so that we might live. What do you need to cut this week?