Lord Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise
By Timothy W. Tron
“The expression “…the creek don’t rise” is an American slang expression implying strong intentions subject to complete frustration by uncommon but not unforeseeable events. It presumably evokes occasional and unpredictably extreme rainfall in Appalachia, that has historically isolated one rural neighborhood or another temporarily inaccessible on several or many occasions.” -Wikipedia definition for “The creek don’t rise.”
The rains fell heavy throughout the previous night. When he awoke to overcast skies, it was no surprise. Quietly he pondered over the morning scriptures. He poured the customary tankard of black brew that he carried with him. Once he crossed the divide, he recompensed upon the bench in front of the little town’s only store. His routine was not yet chiseled into time long enough to be considered a “tradition”, yet he was sticking to the pretense as closely as his busy schedule would allow. The weather apps on his device kept warning of areal flooding. In the back of his mind he knew this meant that his normal route for Sunday worship may be altered, but not if he could help it. The air was one of those moist, damp chills, the kind that sunk below the flesh and lingered in the bones. Donning his cap and grabbing his trusty walking stick, he set out, bare legged and sandals for the eventual challenge, the crossing of the river.
As he rounded the curve in the road toward the river’s edge, he could see the water was well above its normal course. “How much more so,” he thought to himself as he tried to find a marker, a log, anything that might convey the true depth. There at his usual crossing, the stone sand-bar was nonexistent. The greenish, brown fluid rolled angrily past as he vied for any familiarity; there was nothing. Knowing the vantage point from whence he usually sought, he stepped into the ice-cold brink. The bottom kept going as he began to sink deep into the mud. There seemed to be no bottom and before he could recover, he was chest deep. Stinging cold chased him back to the bank where he fought back his disgust. Looking back, the water seemed to laugh back at him. “I will not be turned away,” he silently told himself, “I can do all thing through Christ who strengthens me,” he spoke through his teeth as he charged back in, this time at the point where he knew the bottom was more solid, yet normally deeper. Contact to the stones below was a welcome relief compared to the episode second earlier; however, the battle against the roaring current of the torrent quickly ensued. Driving his walking stick into the river bed, each step carefully taken. The force of the water ripping at his legs, his body being pushed against its will. One foot, one planting of the cane, another step closer to that distant shore. The rhythm of his course began to match his heartbeat. The struggle was all his own, nothing more than the determination to prove nothing to no one. In his mind, there was a greater purpose for which he sought to serve, and someday, sometime, he might be called to answer that calling. This was his personal boot camp for the Lord; the preparation for what may be required someday to serve in the army of God. Nothing of this world that could render flesh numb could stop his progress as he finally reached the calm waters at the edge of the distant shore. Climbing out, he looked back at the raging torrent below. Another Sunday, another journey through the abyss that would not keep him from his worship.
They would amusingly question him, some in disbelief that anyone would be so detached from the normalcy of life to put themselves through something so arduous, but here he was once more, wading the river, even at near flood stage capacity.
His purpose, not for anyone other than himself and God, was slowly becoming a light to those around him. Around him the chatter of the moment was growing ever more lively, for there was something other than to focus their weekly attention on, other than their usual family calamities and concerns. There was something that captured their imaginations and ran with them, diving into that flowing abyss beyond the church.
Meanwhile, he sat on the bench, seeking the warmth inside that only God could provide. His mind drifted back to the hardship of climbing that mountain. Those mountain rivers in the Germanesca Valley that flowed so icily in the summer air would now be slicing, bitter cold, humanly impassable torrents. For these there would be a day, but not until this simple flow in which he had just crossed could be mastered.
The training would continue, one river, one step, one verse after another until the day the Master calls.
In His time, his will be done.
Thanks be to God.