Laurel Thomas

Monthly Archive: June 2014

Friday

27

June 2014

6

COMMENTS

Expanding in the River

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It was a dream. We were having a big event at our house. Everyone was there, all four of our kids, their families – everyone.

The house was a mess. There were piles of laundry, crumbs under the table, and stuff on the counters.

I asked for help, but everyone had another job or reason they couldn’t. So I plowed in and started to work with a sinking feeling, knowing it would be too little, too late.

Sure enough, there were still crumbs under the table when people arrived.

Ready or not. They were ready. I was not.

We have a large family, so a Saturday night dinner can be a big event. We love people and people need food. Jesus knew that. He used a crowd to teach His disciples about expansion. He gave them a clear visual of what it looked like and how to handle it.

My mother-in-law did the same for me. She taught me how to feed a crowd and retain my sanity. It was a valuable life lesson! The Lord knew I would need it.

She showed me how to get the table ready, have the right groceries on hand and how to use recipes that were easy, delicious and could expand to feed added guests. Most of all, she taught me to be prepared ahead of time.

I learned. I helped her with Christmas meals, birthdays, weddings, whatever occasion called for food and fun. It took a few years, but I like doing big events now. If I’m prepared.

The disciples were amazed at the crowds who came to hear Jesus. Their journey hadn’t started with a multitude. One was introduced to Him by his brother. Another was a tax collector. One sat under a tree, unaware how his life would change in one meeting.

They didn’t plan to feed thousands.

Whenever I wonder what the heck is going on, I know I’m in a new place. I’m in the middle of a new wineskin in the making.

It’s a new place with new requirements. I look around and say, “Hey! Could someone help me out here?”

The nature of this place over-extends all I’ve offered in the past.

I look around me, spying out what I don’t have and might need, just like the disciples who looked around, frantic, trying to figure out how to do what Jesus just said.

“You feed them.”

With what?

The answer was right there. It wasn’t in what they didn’t have. It was in what they didn’t see. One disciple made a desperate stab. Turned out he was right.

A young boy had some food. They didn’t.

This is a key for expansion.

I’m asking Him to help me see what He’s placed in my life right now. Not something I have to drum up. But something I need to acknowledge is already there. I honor what He’s put in my life by recognizing its potential to become more than I expected.

He puts pressure on my ability. Not to be mean, but so my capacity will grow.

I still have a few messes, but can’t let them stop me from offering my current capacity to Him for a multiplied one.

I’ll look at that community college catalog. Maybe there’s a class that will help my writing. Maybe there’s someone I know and love who will critique my work. Maybe a multitude waits for the very small thing I put into action today.

It’s more than a stab in the dark. It’s His principle for expansion.

 

Shalom,

Laurel Thomas

Monday

23

June 2014

5

COMMENTS

A Ring in the River

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Winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come… (Song of Songs 2:11)

I don’t get visions every day. I didn’t expect one this morning. A vision seems very spiritual. I used to look at them as a badge of approval. You know, God is really happy with me, so He slaps a vision on me.

Not so much.

I was just singing, worshipping in church on a Sunday morning. I closed my eyes because it helps me focus. I saw me holding out a ring. It wasn’t a huge ring. It was smaller than a hoola-hoop, but larger than a bicycle rim.

I don’t know what the ring was or why I held it in front of me. As soon as I did, the Lord jumped into the ring. It shattered all around with the enormity of Him.

I shouted on the inside, “Yes! Come, Lord, and burst my expectations! Break through my capacity with the largeness of You!”

But really… How does that happen?

A ring can represent a lot of things. It can be a sign of covenant or commitment. It can be a symbol of authority, like a signet ring in the hands of a king. It can even be a circumference of influence, lined out with careful boundaries.

A loving father gave his son, the prodigal, a ring.

The son wasted his inheritance and was heading home in disgrace. He wasn’t coming back as a son. He came as an indentured servant, so he could pay off his debt.

He faced Kezazah, a ceremonial banishment. It is translated, “the cutting off.”

 A clay pot filled with burnt beans was broken at the feet of the one who had strayed. It represented a unified boot out of the community. No business, no friendships, ostracized in every way.

But someone jumped into the middle of that ring.

His dad caught sight of him and ran without hesitation toward his son. Not the dignified lop of a middle-aged pillar of the community. But a sweaty, robe-lifted over the legs, sleeves-flapping in the wind kind of sprint.

When they met face to face, he kissed his son over and over. Not the Aunt Dorothy peck on the cheek. These were kisses and tears all jumbled up and spilling over in love without words.

Daddy prepared his servants ahead of time. They covered the stinky son with his best robe. They slipped shoes over calloused, road weary, bleeding feet. Shoes for a son, not a slave. The signet ring slipped on his hand guaranteed he could come home and make a living.

There would be no Kezazah. Daddy made sure of that.

Humility flows out of a generous heart. It flows out of love. The orphan can’t afford to forgive, can’t afford humility. It costs more than he has.

The prodigal’s daddy had a resource bigger than his own. It was okay to hike up his robe and run like an aging track star amid the aghast frowns of neighbors who wondered what happened to their friend.

Love happened, that’s what.

Love so generous, it became an indelible picture on the heart of his son.

That’s how my circle is expanded. The love of my Father just runs up and jumps in my arms. He explodes my self-contained limitations. He ruins my careful excuses and justifications. He embraces the filth of my misplaced affections and soaks me in His fragrance.

This love is so engrafted I don’t have to dip into orphan resources again. I run with abandon and discover that limitless love runs faster toward me than I can to it.

So much more than I expected. So much sweeter.

The winter is past. Do I dare believe it?

I’m watching for Him. I’m expecting Him in unexpected ways, extravagant, unafraid of my doubts and undeterred by my messes.

He’s coming – sooner than I think.

 

Shalom,

Laurel Thomas

 

Sunday

15

June 2014

4

COMMENTS

A Daddy Waits

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The prodigal son seems like a good Father’s Day story. Remember the son who decided he wasn’t a son? His daddy and his home life were holding him back. He needed that inheritance, even if it meant breaking relationship with the one who loved him most.

I’ve been pretty good about jumping into fights like a junkyard dog. My quickness to defend myself is proof of a lie I’ve believed. That lie is that my safety and my defense depend on me alone.

Hmmm. That sounds a little like the prodigal. What was it that really sent him on his shopping spree? Was it trying to keep up with an over-achieving older brother who ran faster, farther and with more finesse?

Was there strife in that home? Or had life just been pretty quiet, and the prodigal needed some fun. Without restrictions, without boundaries.

We don’t know why. We can only speculate what caused a person to discard what was of real value in his life.

It would have been easy for the father to shout, “Didn’t I teach you better than that? Haven’t you learned anything from all the love and care since you were born?”

We don’t have any record of that. We just see a dad waiting, looking at the horizon, watching for a lost son to return.

I’ve been the lost daughter. I’ve been the longing parent. Wondering when the chains will be broken. Wishing I could give more, be better, somehow make things right. Realizing the time must come when my eye turns to the Father.

My Father waits for me to get it.

He doesn’t call me stupid. He just waits, longing for the moment when I head back home to love.

So, that’s what I’m doing this Father’s Day. Lifting my eyes to what is real. Grateful that I’m learning to recognize it. Looking to the horizon, knowing I’m His own.

 

Shalom,

Laurel Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday

8

June 2014

8

COMMENTS

New Wineskin in the River

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What does resurrection life look like in me? I mean the real thing. If He is real, and He is, then His presence looks like something other than just me without Him. Right?

I’ve found one constant that signals Him in me. It is change. Not the theoretical kind. Transformation sounds more spiritual. But transformation begins with change.

His life in me rearranges things. Not just random change for the sake of change. His presence seeks to uncover me, to unveil part of Him in me I didn’t know was there.

Fear used to drive me like a tyrant. My fear had lots of faces, none of which were very attractive. Sometimes it looked like anger. Often, it looked like control, making sure all of life was ordered and therefore, secure.

Fear made it hard to slow down. So much to accomplish to prove my worth! It didn’t make me much fun and kept me isolated from what really mattered, like relationships that needed time and trust.

What is it about God that He would even care to reshape and reconfigure me, to carry Him in a fresh, new and living way?

I looked around for a long time, trying to fit myself into the familiar even when everything changed around me. While change sounded good in theory, I resisted it.

Still, it didn’t keep me from being what God called a wine-skin. I’d never seen one and had no idea how one was made. So I did a little homework. Who would know I’d have something in common with a goatskin, stretched and lined with pitch?

Here’s what I learned. Wine has to have a container. Wine-skins were a portable way to carry liquid sweetness around. God wants us to be portable containers of Him, too. And He is very sweet.

It took lots of preparation for a wine-skin to hold wine. Especially if the wine was new. The new wine expanded as it matured. If the goat skin was old and inflexible, the skin burst and the wine was lost.

I love it when I know what’s going on, when I know how to do this thing called life. It’s just that life isn’t static. It moves. God moves, too. He wants to move me into unfamiliar territory. He needs me to look, to think in a different way for a new season.

Just because the wine is new and hasn’t had time to mature, doesn’t make it any less valuable. It just means the container needs to stretch. I need to let God’s presence shift cherished opinions and mind-sets.

I looked all over with my old wine-skin on, longing for the same function in the same package when the Lord wanted to do a new work. No wonder I got frustrated.

I couldn’t guarantee how my life would look or even if it would taste good. But if I didn’t change, the new wine, the new work, would break the old me and spill out like a wasted treasure.

New wine is precious. If I put today’s wine in yesterday’s me, I might lose the wine. The old me doesn’t have the capacity that new wine needs for growth.

So like my favorite GPS word, I am recalculating. I’m asking resurrection life to shape me. A lot is at stake. A new expression of Him waits. I may not recognize its package, but I’ll taste its sweetness. Others will, too.

 

Shalom,

Laurel Thomas