The Büyük Menderes River is Turkey’s longest river that twists and turns in a meandering course as it rushes into the Aegean Sea. The name Menderes is a derivation from Maiandros, which is translated into English as Meander, and this name has become prominent in our culture.
A good example of meandering is when my dog and I walked down a three-quarter-mile dirt road to our mailbox when we lived in the mountains of northern New Mexico. For every 50 feet I walked, Tyke ran back and forth about 200 feet. Another example is the Ohio River that flows from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cairo, Illinois. Ohio is 981 miles long, but Cairo is only 549 miles from Pittsburgh by helicopter. Zigzag nearly doubles the distance.
Due to natural causes such as earthquakes, floods, landslides, and hurricanes, rivers’ paths sometimes change. My father grew up in McAllen, Texas, which is not far from Brownsville. My father said years ago, “Brownsville is usually located in the United States. But during the flood phase, the Rio Grande changed course, flowing north of Brownsville and putting the city in Mexico.”
Of course, my dad joked about having Brownsville in Mexico, but the Rio Grande sometimes changed course before the flood control levees were built.
The Mississippi River not only changed its course, but also flowed backward several times. The first time we know about it was after an earthquake in 1812, a backflow caused a tsunami that wiped out a pirate’s den on a river island. When it resumed its southern flow, a new canal was cut and part of its course changed. The second time was in 2005 when it reversed its flow for several hours during Hurricane Katrina. The third time was in 2012 when Hurricane Isaac forced the southern tip of the river to flow backward for 24 hours. You may have read about the chaos it caused up and down the river.
When Carol and I were driving from Bloomington, Indiana, to Worthington, Indiana, last month, I turned to a road that wasn’t on the map. It was heading north, and I knew I’d reach my destination. The road was meandering in every direction like a stream trying to find its way into the ocean. However, it was relaxing until we got to the T on the way with no indication of which direction to go. Frustration was about to rear its ugly head, but a man in a rusty old car stopped and asked where we wanted to go. We told him, he told us to turn right and there was peace again. We took the road to Worthington and joined our son and his family.
Then, while helping our son build his house, I dealt with poison ivy. It changed my life for a month.
Events over the course of life generate institutional change as well. Businesses closed and people lost their jobs due to our response to the latest pandemic. The war affects political and financial decisions. I presided over a dear friend’s funeral in Kentucky recently. The direction in life changed dramatically for that family.
Life is like a meandering river. Change is ever present. Confusion is rife. Emotions are apparent and anger often.
But stop. Let’s not react negatively. Change is guaranteed nearly every day, so how do we establish and maintain a consistent path?
The captain and helmsman must know the river. Sam Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, studied the Mississippi River and knew every turn. Some captains hired cheap help and lost their ships in rocks, hidden tree trunks, and uneven beaches, but Mark Twain kept his boats in safe waters.
As we navigate the winding river of life, we need help keeping our “ships” in safe waters. We dare not trust our lives in myths, legends, fantasies and human religions. We need a solid anchor with a reliable chain that will keep us safe during life’s storms.
This anchor is Jesus Christ, and the double chain consists of the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 14:26, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” So read what Jesus said in the Bible.
Jesus is our guide in the meandering river of life. You can trust him.
– S. Eugene Linzey is an author, educator and speaker. Send comments and questions to [email protected] Visit their website at www.genelinzey.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.
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