By the Way With Joel Meeker
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“There Is a River Whose Streams Shall Make Glad”

I have enjoyed seeing many of the great rivers of the world. But there is one I haven’t yet seen that is at the top of my list.

In my travels, I collect rivers. Of course they can’t be brought home, but I swim or wade in them when I can, or just slide a finger through the waters and think of their history and importance, etching them in memory.

Collecting rivers

My collection started with the Mississippi, which drains 40 percent of the contiguous United States. This liquid highway was crucial to the development of the nation.

The Seine flows around the Île de la Cité and gave the island protection from barbarian raids. The island’s Celtic settlement, called Lutetia Parisiorum, was conquered by Julius Caesar and eventually became Paris.

Tributaries of the Rhine, flowing to the North Sea from Switzerland, and of the Danube, flowing to the Black Sea from Germany’s Black Forest, were connected by a canal dug by Charlemagne in the late 700s.

Great rivers of the world have given life to ancient and mysterious civilizations. The Nile certainly did for Egypt. The modern nation is still basically a thin green line a few miles on either side of the river. My eyes widened at the sight of the headwaters of the Blue Nile as it flowed from Ethiopian Lake Tana on its course to the Mediterranean.

From a boat on the Niger, I watched people perform their ablutions, the same way they have for thousands of years, in this river that cuts a huge arc through West Africa, flowing from the jungles of the Guinea Highlands north to Timbuktu and the Sahara before turning back south to its delta in Nigeria.

Wading in the Congo River at the start of Livingstone Falls, I watched gigantic rapids tumble, draining a part of Central Africa greater than the size of India.

I stood at the edge of the crocodile-filled Zambezi as it gushed over thunderous Victoria Falls.

The Mekong, the Irrawaddy and the Ganges are part of my collection; all bring back vivid memories.

A river of the future

But the ultimate addition is yet for the future. It is a river we will all thrill to see and touch, a river that will bring life and joy more than any other, ever. It is prophesied to flow from a great temple to be built in Jerusalem when the Kingdom of God shall be established and the world transformed.

Psalm 46:4 gives us a glimpse of it: “There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.”

Ezekiel also saw it in a vision, a spring-fed river rising from under the threshold of the temple, flowing east from the city through formerly parched lands that will then flourish.

The Dead Sea will come to life, teeming with fish. Desert lands will be redeemed, just as human beings will be on a scale unmatched. This river will surpass all others in importance, symbolizing the life-giving qualities of the rule of God on earth (Ezekiel 47:1-12).

I’m impatient to touch the river that shall make glad even the capital of the Kingdom of God.

—Joel Meeker


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Wonders of God's Creation