Rising Waters

The good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

Origin Unknown

I grew up hearing this phrase, always uttered by an older person and always in closing a discussion about upcoming events. It was a disclaimer of sorts acknowledging the element of uncertainty in any planning session.

We’ll see you on Saturday, the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise!

But before I move on…

Unfortunately Necessary Disclaimer:

Before any feathers get ruffled over the modern-day tendency to take every imaginable thing and twist its meaning to fit the current social narrative, if you have heard anything about this phrase attributed to worries of a Creek native uprising, click here and read with your whole capacity for critical thinking engaged. Thank you. Now on to my point.

Most of the people my childish self heard utter this phrase grew up in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. All of them spent most of their lives in the Tennessee Valley between the mountains to the east and the Cumberland Plateau to the west. Several recalled the days of wagons drawn by horse or mule which stuck in the mud or shied at the dull roar of a swollen creek smoothing the rocks as it drained the peaks and plateaus into our little bowl of a town.

Even a youngun’ like me who grew up in the age of motor cars can attest that a plethora of creeks of varying depths and breadths wind their way through this lush valley. When they rise, the way is often barred. I’ve seen cars stalled out and half-filled with water in intersections which looked deceptively shallow, roads collapsed from great surges of water flushing out the soil beneath the pavement, and I’ve missed school because there was no passable road open to anyone without a kayak or canoe.

But even if the creeks remain gurgling placidly in their banks, the Lord may not always be willing. And this, my friends, is a Biblical principle I have been reminded of often this school year.

…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

James 4:14-1

On July 19, I went into my classroom to begin setting it up for the new school year. Teacher in-service began the following week and students would return to classes on August 2. My hope was to get a head start on all things in order to spend quality time with my college freshman before she left for her new adventure.

I went home that day with what seemed to be a typical (for me) occipital headache but turned out to be the beginnings of my second go-round with viral meningitis.

Then school started. Then the creeks DID rise, affecting neighboring counties much more than our own. And a mere 3 weeks into our new school year, COVID struck hard and fast and forced us into a remote learning environment for a couple of weeks while we pled for the Lord to heal teachers and friends who were – and are – incredibly ill.

The last six weeks have felt a lot like a song list stuck on repeat. There have been plenty of interruption in all our plans. Yet we continue to trust in the Lord and understand that if He is not willing, He has a very good reason. After all, it isn’t the results we choose to trust in; it’s the character of the One who holds all things in His very capable hands.

He is good. Because He is Creator of all, good is defined by who He is and not by what we, who are warped and hoodwinked by sin, think about His ways.

So if His will takes me in a direction 180 degrees from where the path I laid leads, I know I can walk His way with confidence. He made each one of us, and He knows what is truly best – even when it causes inconvenience or suffering. Even then, He is still good. In the present age, we’ll do well not to forget this fact.

I hope to see you sooner rather than later. The good Lord willing, of course.