Many Rivers to Cross
Here we are at the dawn of 2021. We arrive here with trembling shoulders and the heels of our feet charred by the flames of yesteryear. Where there is normally excitement, there now is trepidation.
Many of us have been left fragile in the storm caused by Covid-19, a storm which continues to rage over the river of life. Despite the roaring rapids, the crocodiles and the rocks, should we be afraid? Should we turn our backs to the horizon? Should we curse the wind and swear at the sun?
I Dare to Believe
I dare to believe we can make it across the water; so does reggae singer Jimmy Cliff (or, if you prefer, UB40) whose lyrics inspired the title of this article. Our charred heels are quenched by the moss as we touch the first of many rivers to cross.
Africa is known for its scenic landscape and vibrant wildlife. It is the marvellous wonderland that cradles people of every kind. When God moulded the universe, he placed amongst its hills and valleys rivers which may make us yearn for living water.
Those who are adventurous and dare to journey through the mountains will stumble upon the Zambezi River which calls to us from Zambia. It desires to never be forgotten. To have this wish granted, the Victoria Falls are unveiled before us and therefore engraved into the memory of mankind. After a busy course of rushing rapids, it goes to rest in the Indian Ocean.
As we sojourn further north, we are greeted by the Congo River. It is long and secretive, as a consequence of being one of the deepest rivers in the world. Its thoughts buried down below are known only to God. And how can we speak of great rivers without mentioning the Nile? It is the jewel of the land of the pharaohs and the inspiration of many myths of the ancient world.
What do all these rivers have in common? Is it their meanders, their stillness or their danger? I believe it is all of these things. At the best of times they are beautiful, and at the worst of times they can scare us. So it is with life.
What I have learned
If I have learned anything from this time of tribulation, it is that the fullness of life does not come from playing it safe. We are made for beauty and adventure. We are made to hear the pulse of the river. We feel this ache in our bones, but we are still afraid. We do not know what sharp-toothed beasts lie in darkness pining for our flesh. We do not know what heavy clouds may gather and empty their hearts through the rain. We do not know what vengeful white waters lie ahead, seeking to devour us.
The past year has shown that there is so much that could destroy us. And yet, in some way, we know that the answer is not to run away, for God himself — our raft, our river guide — will carry us.
Who else could do so? We could try (I know I have) to chart our course and “search north”. But we did not make the river on which we travel nor their waterfalls which might stop our journey.
There are many mountains to climb. There are many roads to drive. There are many sunsets to endure. There are many sunrises to come. There are many moons to wonder at. There are many stars to count. There are many things to hope for, on the many rivers to cross.