If influence is power (and, it is) and we get to choose who influences us (and, we do) then surely we get to determine who has power (both positive and negative) over us?

I have come to realize that God, in His grace, reveals different aspects of His character, of who He is, to us at different times and seasons in our lives. He is always what we need at that particular time, and He is always doing a work that will bring Him glory through us, at that particular time. He reveals Himself as healer to the physically and emotional ill.  He is the lifter up of our heads when we are despondent and down trodden.  He is Righteous Judge when we have strayed and our sinfulness is keeping us away from Him. I have learned that it is a great habit to learn what part of God’s character He is revealing to us.

Right now I’m at a place where God is revealing Himself to me, for lack of a better term, as “the keeper of the vineyard”.  John 15:2 is a fairly well known verse which says, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful”. We have come to understand that scripture as “God prunes the negative aspects of our lives and character in order to grow us personally”.  That is certainly what this verse means.  However, I believe this principle incorporates cutting off and pruning various outside influencers in our lives as well.

During the natural progression of finding myself in a new environment and sharing life with new people, I have discovered that I am experiencing Ecclesiastes 3 – that there is a time for everything, and more aptly, everyone.  Which is where we get back to my opening statement: we choose who has influence over our lives.

Having been n a fairly comfortable situation for a number of years, I became used to the same people influencing me in the same way, challenging the same things, and quite honestly, being negative about the same things, often.  The initial realization that I would be separated from people who were close to me because of our move to Joburg was hurtful and naturally, many tears were shed.  The saying is true:  “You don’t realize what you have, until it’s gone” and I now know that what I had was some phenomenal friends who have had such an incredible, positive influence over me, people who I could not imagine doing life without and whose influence in my life has contributed to my growth as a person in Christ.  I have also seen that I was simultaneously influenced by some people who had a very negative effect on me – people whose critical spirits, negative attitudes and own insecurities were holding me back from achieving my God given desires and purpose.

On this journey of life, we walk together. Then from time to time we reach a fork in the road and some of the people you are journey’ing with keep walking alongside you, others take the other fork. On this new road, you meet up with some new people who’s journey’s you become a part of.  After some time the process is repeated as you face another fork in the road, and part ways with some people.  As Paul Scanlon teaches, “People get on the bus, and people get off the bus”.  While nature takes its course and people come into our lives and leave our lives, it is also important that we realize as the bus drivers of our journey, that when people are affecting the smooth running of our journey, keeping us back and affecting the journey negatively, we have the power to remove them from our journey.

Tam and I have made a decision to only allow positive people to influence our lives from now on.  We will have no part in accommodating the negatively that is thrown our way.  It’s not always easy – if we’re real, being negative and cynical is sometimes far easier than seeing the glass half-full, but the latter brings life, the former – death.

The “tagline” of my blog is “join the journey”, and I’d love for you to analyze where you are on your own relational journey.  Maybe just the right people are influencing you right now, and that’s great.  But if you’re in a position where people are holding you back, set them free.  Proverbs 27:17 says “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”.  My challenge to you is to surround yourself with the sharpest iron possible.

Enjoy the journey!

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