Graceline: It’s the company you keep

December 1, 2013 

Growing up my best friend was just like me – loved sports, pinto beans, sweet tea and had a Southern drawl as bad as mine.

After high school, he moved to South Dakota then to Minnesota and then to California. Years later when he came back home, I said, “Who are you and what have you done with Layraw (Larry’s nickname)?” He came back with the most outlandish brogue you ever heard.

Have you ever noticed we have a tendency to act and talk like the people we hang out with the most? The Bible talks about that: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33-34 NLT)

Now, by no means am I saying Larry’s character was corrupted. What I am saying, and the Bible agrees with me, is the company we keep does affect our character –for better or worse. Birds of a feather do flock together.

I said all that to say this: I have been trying to awaken people to their true identity in Christ. If you have trusted Jesus Christ as Lord of your life, He literally became your life. You need to wake up and understand Jesus is your life. If you spend a lot of time in fellowship with Him and allowing Him to sit on the stool of your heart, His character will shine forth and people will sometimes mistake you for Jesus. I believe before the Fall, Adam and Eve were so much like God when they walked through the garden, the animals said: “Look, there is God. No, it’s just Adam, but he sure looks like God, doesn’t he?”

I have been so busy lately I have not spent much time with the Lord. Therefore, I have not looked much like Him, much less acted like Him. So I decided to head to my favorite spot in the woods next to a little stream and stretch out in my lawn lounge to hang out with the Lord for a while. When I settled, the quiet began to soothe my soul. I became aware in a matter of moments. I had almost forgotten how peaceful it is to be still in His presence.

The first thing I heard was a woodpecker off in the distance rat-tat-tating away. “Lord, I would really love to see that woodpecker.” In just a minute, he flew to a tree next to me. I watched him a long time peck inside a hole and then pull his head out and spit sawdust into the wind, which drifted away like a wisp of smoke. Simply fascinating!

About that time, my phone beeped with a text message, and my woodpecker flew off.

Rats! I said, “Lord, could you bring Woody back and let me watch him a little longer?”

As I looked down the stream to see if I could find him, a giant bird flew down the creek line right toward me. It was huge. So huge I thought it was a young eagle. He flew right in front of me and perched on a tree 20 yards away. Before I could catch my breath, another one came on his heels and sat beside him. It was a pair of magnificent hawks, larger than any I have ever seen. I marveled at them for several minutes before they continued their journey.

I remembered praying yesterday: “Lord, would you show me how much you really love me? Would you reveal to me who you truly are?” My heart almost jumped out of my chest as I realized God was actually answering my prayer beyond my wildest expectations. A woodpecker I asked to see and a double bonus of two humongous hawks that I didn’t have the faith to ask for. God knows I love birds of prey.

He always sends me one when I get a little stressed. When I get real stressed, He sends me a pair. Their size was directly proportional to my stress level.

As my breathing came back to normal, I heard it again: rat-tat-tat. I looked up and there was Woody again showing off for me. The Lord had not forgotten I wanted to see him again and sent him back to me one more time. God’s love and peace flooded my soul.

The wind was so calm, leaves were falling one at a time straight down. I watched them one by one float ever so slowly to their final resting place having fulfilled their purpose. Suddenly the wind stiffened and leaves were falling in droves, the trees becoming more barren and exposed. I was reminded of how the Holy Spirit came like a mighty rushing wind to the early disciples at Pentecost revealing God’s glory and power.

But the Lord was not finished talking to me quite yet. “Kenny, I’ve really enjoyed spending time with you today. I am always with you, you know, even if you do get distracted with your to-do lists. You think I’ve forgotten about you because you are going through a dry spell. But listen to me, can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has born? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you. I have written your name on the palms of my hands (Isaiah 49:15-16).

Life goes in cycles. Even the trees need wintertime to rest and recuperate for the next cycle of growth. You haven’t seen anything yet. Just wait and see what we are going to do when spring comes around again. In the meantime, I hope you will come back again soon and often. I’ve got a lot more where this came from. I love you, son!

We are known by the company we keep. And He will make Himself known to you if you will only keep company with Him.

Kenny Ashley is pastor of The Journey in Lake Wylie.

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