I've been thinking a lot lately about the company I keep. I love most people (believe me-Jesus and I are working on that word "most" but trust me-it's still there!). I like people to be around me. I like people to stop me in the grocery store and tell me they're doing well, or not, or whatever. But those people I call general people. People who happen to be where you are when you're there, not planned, just happens. Sometimes divine-sometimes coincidence-sometimes you're just both looking at grape nuts or whatever. And those aren't the people I'm worried about. God takes care of the everyday encounters in our lives.
I'm talking about real people. The people we intentionally choose to keep in our lives. Our friends, our confidants, our spiritual soulmates. The people that we let into more than just the surface of who we are. The people who know what pushes our buttons and try not to push them. The people who we call when our worlds cave in or we think we're just falling apart. The people we spend time with, invest our lives into and share the secret longings of our hearts and souls with. And in return the people who can be real with us-sometimes about us.
I'll be honest with you. Accountablity? Not my favorite thing. I'm in a season currently that is requiring MUCH accountability and I pretty much hate it every day. I don't mind holding other people accountable-I'm actually really good at that :) but being held accountable myself, at least in this season is soooooooo painful for me. There are some things that the Lord and I have gone around and around and around and around about for a LONG time and it's time for them to get straightened out. Believe me-I've tried on my own and I would REALLY prefer to handle some of them especially on my own, but I've proven over and over again that I cannot. Sigh. It's nothing earth shattering. If I gave you all the specifics you might be prone to think I'm looking for a needle in a haystack and maybe so, but can I just say I think that's exactly what Satan is after? Those little things that we think don't make any difference. Those things that we prefer to hang onto or blame on our personality or blow off as just who we are-they're ruining us in service for the Lord. And I think so much of it is in conjunction with the company we keep.
My pastor preached this morning on being a usable vessel. A clean vessel. Being someone the Lord wanted to fill so He could use it. He talked about being set apart, sanctified. He said if you take a clean glass and a dirty glass and put them together-they both end up dirty. It's much harder for the clean glass to influence the dirty glass. Maybe you had to be there but it really resonated in my spirit.
And I know how hard this is to hear because the Lord has been saying it to me for years, but I truly deep in my soul believe that it's better to be by yourself than in bad company. I wish I lived a life that had Godly conversation every night of the week. I wish I had prayer meetings at my house 3 mornings a week where I could just fellowship in the company of fellow believers. I wish I never had to leave the presense of the Lord but my life isn't like that and your's probably isn't either. I break my neck to get my house halfway picked up for Tuesday night's Bible study at my house! By the time I make it to the study on Wednesday mornings and church Sunday morning mixed with everything else in a week I barely have time to send a few quick messages to friends letting them know I'm praying for them.
It's so hard to manage a life nevertheless the people around it. I think it's so much better to be home alone with the Lord than out with people who are going to encourage us to be a unfit vessel. And I'm not EVEN talking about unbelievers. We're called to be among them. I'm talking about the people in our lives that encourage us to be worldly or bring out the worst parts about ourselves. The people who do not edify us. The people when we leave them we do not feel closer to the Lord but further away.
I hate that there have been times even recently when I've been that person. When I've missed the opportunity to discuss God's faithfulness with another believer because I'm totally stressed out or seriously lacking in faith at the moment. I hate that I haven't stopped in my tracks when I've encountered someone in my life who was hurting and prayed for them and with them right that second. God knows I've had moments in my own life the past few weeks that have had me all but begging the prayer warriors in my life to interceed for me. Not the first time or the last time either!
I think we become the company we keep. In my own life that means getting rid of some one sided friendships or at least not making them top priority. It means investing more in relationships with a view of eternity mixed in. I'll tell you-it's way harder to try to fit these people in, but it's so important. It's much easier to run to the movies or to dinner to gossip about work and other people, etc. than it is to intentionally plan time to discuss the Lord, but it's so becoming a necessary reality to me.
I sit right in the middle of 2 of the Godliest people I know at church on Sundays. I like to be around them and I like to be with them. They resonate Jesus from the inside out and having just come out of a season where Jesus was very hard for me to find, I like them close by! One of them said this morning after church, "I'm glad you came. You belong here." I really can't think of anything nicer anyone has said to me lately. To belong! Isn't that what we all want? To feel like we belong to the body of Christ. To feel like we're a part of a fellowship of other believers. To feel like we're a piece of an eternal masterpiece, a piece that matters, a piece that if it were missing would make the bigger picture lack something. Who we are, what we believe in, the way we act, where we are on the path to sanctification, our relationship with the Lord-so much of it is enhanced or destroyed by the company we keep. It matters.