Laurel Thomas



March 2016



Fire in the River

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I didn’t have much time that morning, but long enough to find He’d been waiting for me.

The Lord’s visit was like a gift. It’d been tucked away and hidden for a season. Like a parent who knew a celebration was coming, He had it ready for the right moment.

His visit was unexpected and cloaked in the right amount of mystery to keep me digging. Like a treasure hunt, I’d think of one thing and He’d lead to another until the full story unfolded.

I saw an altar. It was made of stone, maybe like the one Elijah prepared in the Old Testament. The altar Elijah constructed wasn’t in friendly territory. Hundreds watched as he gathered twelve stones and fit them together. But not as cheerleaders. Many of them mocked the prophet, placing bets on their god Baal over the power of Jehovah.

God’s people were somewhere in the mob. Although at that point they weren’t sure who they belonged to. They couldn’t remember what they believed

After Baal had his chance to show up, Elijah called everyone close. Then he repaired the Lord’s altar that had been torn down. Taking a stone for the twelve tribes of Israel, he positioned each until they stood as one.

Elijah didn’t throw the stones in a pile and call it good. He didn’t say, “Oh, well. It’s just a bunch of rocks.”

It was a holy place, no matter how long it’d been neglected. He was careful to rebuild according to heavenly design. After all, it was a picture of God’s will – that His people would come back together to worship as one.

Then he prayed.

“Lord, let these people know that You’re God. And that I’m Your servant. Answer me so they know You’re turning their hearts back again.”

It was the right prayer at the right time. The people stood – some scoffing, some waiting to see what happened. Out of a cloudless blue sky, searing heat whooshed to earth. And hit its target.

It wasn’t a flicker or solitary flame. The fiery torch descended in a moment, devouring the sacrifice, the wood, the dirt and all the water. Only the stones remained.

More than dramatic, it was a certain show of Jehovah’s preeminence. Baal hadn’t shown up. But when His servant prayed, God answered in no uncertain terms.

That’s a picture for us today. We’re being fit back together as an altar to worship the one true God. And fire is ready to fall on that prepared altar.

Our personal lives are like an altar, too. They’re built by design, depending on our choices. Every act of obedience to Him is a stone. One fits into another. And another. Then what looks like an ordinary pile of rocks becomes a holy place. People may not recognize it. But God always does.

A stone came into place when I forgave a friend who wronged me. Another represented my decision to stay in church even though I was hurt and offended. One was positioned when I offered my gift to His plan. Another as I obeyed Him, even though I was misunderstood.

Prepared lives have been built stone by stone, obedience by obedience until they’ve become a lightning rod that attract Him.

The time for people not to notice is over. God is coming to show off. His fire is ready to fall on prepared altars. On prepared lives.

Do I know what that looks like? No. But I will when it comes. So will you.

We won’t be sitting in the middle of a bunch of mockers, wondering if He’ll really come through for us.

We’ll be the ones praying.
“Show up, Lord. Convince Your people that You’re exactly who You said You are. King of Kings. Lord of Lords.”

He will. His fire is the evidence. It will demand a verdict.

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