I'm trying again, as I've done year after year, to start my days reading Scripture and praying. Don't know how well I'll do this time, but I have to say it's good to be back in the Word. I wish I could be one of those dedicated, disciplined people who reads and studies every day, or most days. I'd even settle for a day every once in awhile! But I seem to let everything else push aside time reading and studying God's Word. Odd, isn't it, how we set aside what matters most to deal with things that, in the long run, won't matter at all.
Anyway, as I was reading yesterday morning, I came across a verse that I'm sure I've read many times before. This time, though, it stopped me. Psalm 119: 115:
"Get out of my life, you evil-minded people,
for I intend to obey the commands of my God."
Now there's some serious conviction. And a reminder of me vital it is to choose our companions wisely. It's hard enough to live a life of faith in this crazy, confused world of ours. To stand for what's true and good. To be light and salt and all that following Christ calls us to. Doing so in the company of those whose values and beliefs are contrary to God's laws? Makes it near impossible.
And that got me to thinking about my friends. Man! I've been lucky. No, make that blessed. The friends and counselors in my life have been amazing. As a child, I had an entire church family to stand with me, to guide and encourage. In those crucial years when I could have stepped off God's path, the love these people showered on me held me fast. When Don and I lived in Illinois and were mired in marital struggles--when the world told us to seek happiness over obedience--our godly friends spoke truth to us. Their counsel kept us stumbling along the path of righteousness when it would have been far easier to stray into what we wanted rather than what God commanded. I don't know how our marriage would have survived without these friends who said the hard things we needed to hear. It was so hard to leave these friends when Don and I moved back to Oregon. Probably the hardest part of the move. I was sure I'd never find friends like that again...
But God knew my heart, and in His love He led me to a crazy, funny, wise, God-centered group of women. Women who've each faced struggles and come out with the sure knowledge that God is who He says He is. Women who can play as well as pray. Women who've become a part of my heart. Women to whom I'll never have to say, "Get out of my life." Because they, too, intend to obey.
God made us for relationship. He created us to be a part of each other, to walk this path together. Walking it alone just makes it harder. But it's up to us to choose wisely. To open our hearts to the people God brings into our lives. To seek out those who stand for Him. To take the time and energy to build relationships that will endure.
May God will lead you to friends who will walk beside you, stand with you, and encourage you as you "intend to obey the commands of [your] God." With friends like that beside us, evildoers haven't got a prayer.
Peace to you today.