…the Lord willing and the creek don’t rise…


James 4:13 – 5:1 (NRSV) 13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” 14 Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.

How many of you have heard the expression, “we’ll be there tomorrow, the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise”? When I read this verse about not knowing what tomorrow will bring, I immediately think of this old saying. Some attribute these words to Benjamin Hawkins in the late 18th century. He was a politician and Indian agent. While in the south, Hawkins was requested by the President of the U.S. to return to Washington. In his response, he was said to write, “God willing and the Creek  (Indians) don’t rise.”

I know when I heard my father utter these words he was not referring to Native Americans. He was saying that unless something occurred that could not be prevented, he would do what he said.

I am a planner. I have lists for occasions such as Thanksgiving and I want a calendar near me so that I can schedule events. Even with care, I sometimes double schedule. But when I say I have something planned for tomorrow, or next week, or next month, I never consider my planning to be boasting. Yet James says we are boasting and being arrogant if we claim to know what will happen tomorrow.

Earlier this week we hit a deer. Thankfully, God spared us but my Preachermobile (Subaru Outback) was totaled. I had planned to keep this 2011 car for the remainder of my life. But in an instant my plans became nothing more than mist. Of course, Larry has plans to have my totaled car rebuilt. We’ll see.

For now, I think I will follow James’ advice to do the right thing, if we know what it is. And guess what? If we read the Bible faithfully, we will know the right thing. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Father God, help us to look to you for our plans, and when circumstances change, may we be willing to change with them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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