What direction does the Mississippi River flow? It’s a relatively easy question and the answer is obviously from North to South. “It is the longest river in the world—four thousand three hundred miles. It seems safe to say that it is also the crookedest river in the world, since in one part of its journey is uses up one thousand three hundred miles to cover the same ground that the crow would fly over in six hundred and seventy-five.”1 A casual look at the map will show that the river sometimes flows east, sometimes west and even sometimes north—but the prevailing direction is south.
And so it is with life. How many trips have you been on that delivered you to your destination, but with detours or unexpected stops? Warren Wiersbe writes, At the end of the pilgrimage, the saints of God have looked back and seen the hand of God at work all their lives. This does not mean that everything they did was in the will of God, or that they never went on detours; but it does mean that God ruled and overruled in their lives to accomplish his eternal purposes.2 God is in control. He who made the Mississippi River and directs its currents, watches over us too. David looked back and wrote, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”3 (Psalm 37:25)
I have been fascinated with the Mississippi since reading The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn. That book captured my imagination like no other when I was a young boy. I remember trying to imagine what it would be like to float that river on a raft just like ole Huck, as I drifted off to sleep. For the longest time I found solace in that musing and fell asleep many a night to the sounds of waves lapping against the logs of my pretend raft.
I’m glad the Mississippi meanders as it does—for all of its twists and turns, it stays its course and ends at the Gulf of Mexico. While boyhood escapisms brought me comfort back then, today I find solace comparing my life with the course of that river—just like the Mississippi will forever flow south, in spite of twists and turns, my life is in the hands of a loving Father and he will stay the course and direct my course. I will finish the race He has laid out for me—even if it sometimes appears that I’m heading the opposite direction!
1 Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1892), p. 227
2 Warren Wiersbe, His Name is Wonderful (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1976), p. 79-80