The Büyük Menderes River is the longest river in Turkey that twists and turns in a tortuous path as it rushes to the Aegean Sea. The name Menderes is a derivation of Maiandros which is transliterated into English as Meander, and that name has become prominent in our culture.
A good illustration of meandering is when my dog and I walked the 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 to-and-fro about 200 feet. Another illustration is the Ohio River which flows from Pittsburg, PA to Cairo, IL. The Ohio is 981 miles long, but Cairo is only 549 miles from Pittsburg by helicopter. The meandering nearly doubles the distance.
Due to natural causes such as earthquakes, floods, landslides, and hurricanes, river paths change at times. Dad was raised in McAllen, Texas which isn’t far from Brownsville. Years ago, Dad said, “Brownsville is usually in the United States. But during flood stage, the Rio Grande changes course, flows north of Brownsville, and puts the town in Mexico.”
Of course, Dad was joking about Brownsville being in Mexico, but the Rio Grande did change course at times before the flood-control dams were built.
Not only has the Mississippi River changed course, but it also flowed backwards several times. The first time that we know about was after an earthquake in 1812, and the reverse flow generated a tsunami which wiped out a pirate’s den on a river island. When it resumed its southern flow, it cut a new channel and a portion of its course had 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 end of the river to flow backwards for 24 hours. You probably read about the mess it caused up and down the river.
As Carol and I were driving from Bloomington, IN to Worthington, IN last month, I turned onto a road that wasn’t on the map. It was headed in a northerly direction, and I knew I would get to my destination. The road meandered every-which-way like a stream trying to find its way to the ocean. Nevertheless, it was relaxing until we reached a T in the road with no indication as to which way we should go. Frustration was about to raise its ugly head, but a man in an old rusty car stopped and asked where we wanted to go. We told him, he told us to turn right, and peace reigned again. The road took us to Worthington, and we joined up with our son and his family.
Then while assisting our son in building his home, I came into contact with poison ivy. That changed my life for a month.
Events throughout life generate corporate change as well. Businesses closed and people lost employment because of our reaction to the recent pandemic. War affects political and financial decisions. I officiated at the funeral of a dear friend in Kentucky recently. Direction in life changed dramatically for that family.
Life is like a meandering river. Change is ever-present. Confusion is prevalent. Emotions are visible and anger often flares.
But stop. Let’s not react negatively. Change is guaranteed almost every day, so how do we establish and maintain a steady course?
The captain and helmsman of the ship must know the river. Sam Clemens, known as Mark Twain, studied the Mississippi and knew every turn. Some captains hired cheap help and lost their vessels to rocks, hidden logs, and erratic shorelines, but Mark Twain kept his boats in safe water.
As we sail the meandering river of life, we need help in keeping our “ships” in safe water. We dare not trust our lives to myths, fables, imaginations, and humanistic religions. We need a solid anchor with a reliable chain that keep us secure during the storms of life.
That anchor is Jesus Christ, and the double-chain consists of the Holy 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 bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” So read what Jesus said in the Bible.
Jesus our guide in the meandering river of life. You can trust Him.