Laurel Thomas

Monthly Archive: September 2015



September 2015



A Big Place In the River

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In narrowness You broadened a space for me. (Psalm 4:1)

The phrase, In the beginning, is an invitation. It reminds us that new beginnings show up all through life’s journey. And that the Creator of the universe is willing to take the helm in each of them.

The birth of our first-born marked a new era in our lives 34 years ago. I read every parenting manual I could find and still wondered, “Me, a mom?” Now, our youngest is off to college and I wander around my quiet house, muttering, What the heck?

In Genesis, a new beginning went bad. People’s imaginations and thoughts somehow got twisted. Those thoughts were seeds that grew up and bred violence, maiming and molesting at will. Women and children were ravaged. The spirit behind ISIS, the Nazi regime and every structure that rips and tears with willful abandon was unchecked.

Immeasurable sadness filled God’s heart. He commanded Noah to build a place of refuge for His remnant. Noah obeyed and built a structure according to God’s specifications. It took 75 years. And because he followed every detail, the ark held as flood waters gushed up from the belly of the earth and poured from open heavens.

The flood extended 22 ½ feet above the highest mountain. That was 22 ½ feet above Mount Everest’s height of 29,035 feet. All of earth became a watery abyss with a tiny speck of gopher wood, tossed in enormous swells.

It took over a year for the waters to recede. Noah sent a dove out three times. The second time, it returned carrying an olive branch. It was earth extending an invitation. Come back. Dwell and occupy this new place.

The ark was a confined space, not meant to be a permanent home. But everything familiar was gone and all that stretched before them was uncharted territory. Imagine the wonder of those first footsteps and their eyes wide, taking in a land that stretched far beyond what they could see.

The time comes for us, too, when we’re invited to leave a narrow place and move into one He’s broadened for us. Not that we know what it looks like. There are many uncertainties, but much adventure ahead.

Sometimes life shouts, “You’re small! You’ll never be anything but insignificant!” That may be our biggest clue we aren’t. After all, this is a faith thing. We’re connected to the One who created the universe and just happens to love us.

So, every morning I say Yes to His new beginning. Even though I don’t know what it holds or exactly what it looks like. I want its largeness to push out everything that would keep me small.

I’m not responsible for creating the broad place. I wouldn’t have known it was there if He hadn’t told me. These days are full of mystery. But like the new earth that called Noah and his family, there’s a new place waiting for us to inhabit. Let me know when you catch your first glimpse!

Shalom in the River,

Laurel Thomas




September 2015



A Ride in the River

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How does God talk to you?

I have a favorite Scripture that promises His communication with us. It’s in Psalm 85:9.

“I will hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak Shalom to His people…”

Shalom can’t be translated with a single word. It’s a big word with lots of substance. It comes from the Hebrew, Shalem, which means complete. Shalom is the source behind vibrant health, happy relationships, plenty of what we need, and perfect order. It’s also the absence of conflict, disorder, pain, hunger and lack.

We can keep in mind that when He speaks to us, it’s in the fullness of all that Shalom means. Even when He’s correcting us or adjusting a bad attitude!

Here’s an example. I woke up with a dream Sunday morning. Not a spectacular one that woke me out of a sound sleep. But the kind I could forget as the busyness of the day took over.

In my dream I was graduating. Not only that, I was supposed to bring up the rear of the class with a banner of some sort. My preparations should have been easy, but the most basic things were falling apart. My cap and gown were at home, my car was in another place, and I couldn’t find my keys. At one point, I sat down and cried, “I’ll never make it!”

Just then, someone turned to me. I didn’t get a clear picture of his face. Only that I knew he loved me and I loved him. He said, “I’ll take you.”

I stared for a minute, thinking of the traffic and parking hassles I could skip. It was a no-brainer. I said, “Yes!”

Because of my driver, I made it there on time, with no stress or shame over my inability get where I needed to go.

What did this dream story mean? I knew a few dream symbols. Vehicle usually symbolizes a ministry or gifting. Keys represent authority. That was bad news. My ministry (car) couldn’t go anywhere without my authority (keys).

So, I asked Him to help me understand His message. Here’s my stab at an interpretation.

Our ministry and authority may not be enough to get us where we need to go in the days ahead. But we’ve been invited for a ride. It’s a ride with Him at the helm, in His vehicle and with His authority. When we think we’re too late, we can look for our Friend. He’ll get us there on time.

This seems almost too good to be true, like the Shalom He promises when He speaks. So, every morning I say, “Yes. Yes, to Your ride, Lord.”

I decide not to worry about the limits of what I can do each day. Sometimes life requires more than I have, but that doesn’t mean I’ve failed. I’ll keep my eye out for His presence and climb on board with Him.

He’s speaking Shalom to us. We know it’s Him when the message is far better than we expected. What are you hearing these days?

Shalom in the River,

Laurel Thomas