God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise

God Willing and the Creek Don't Rise -- flooded creekAll my life I have heard people say, “God willing and the creek don’t rise.” My family usually said, “Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.”

I apologize to grammar teachers. I know don’t should be doesn’t. However, that is the only way I have heard or seen the expression used.


God willing and the creek don’t rise means people will do what they plan, if all goes well.

For example:

  • We will visit you tomorrow, God willing and the creek don’t rise.
  • She will begin her new job next week, God willing and the creek don’t rise.
  • I will finish this paper tonight, God willing and the creek don’t rise.

The speakers know they can’t always do as they plan. They can’t control everything that happens.

Years ago, if people lived near a creek, a flood could cut them off from the rest of the world. Often, they had no good bridge to cross the creek. When it started raining cats and dogs, they could not go anywhere. They had to delay plans. That was as bad as being up a creek without a paddle.

“If God’s willing, what does it matter if the creek rises?”

That quote came from Dave Dudgeon. His wife, Dana, added, “If God’s willing, He will provide a way, even if it looks impossible (or impassible) to us.” Mark 10: 27 tells us “all things are possible with God.” Maybe we should just say, “God willing” and not be a worry wart about the creek.

“You ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:15 NIV).

Have you heard this expression? If so, did you hear “God willing” or “Good Lord willing”? Please comment.


Since this posted, I received several messages about a different origin for “God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise.”

According to the Native Heritage Project, “the phrase was written by 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 don’t rise.’ Because he capitalized the word ‘Creek’ it is deduced that he was referring to the Creek Indian tribe and not a body of water.”

This explanation also makes don’t correct, since it refers to a tribe (plural).

Regardless of the origin, the life lesson remains the same: Trust in and follow God’s will.

Thank you to everyone who commented on this. You keep me on my toes.

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Thanks to Becky Nash for the suggestion.


God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise — 4 Comments

  1. Our black elders, especially church folks say “Lord willin and the creek don’t rise”. I still say it everytime I leave someone and want to see them another time.

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