Lent and Friendship -- The Unlikely Couple

It was dark when I walked through the pass-through to the back door. The peepers behind the fence were tuning up. The wind was warm and damp from the South. The air smelled of earthworms and cedar.

There was no distant thunder; no flashes of lightning warning of a storm to come, but there’ll be one. Sooner or later it will happen. The wind from the South does not lie. I’ve lived long enough to know the signs. It’s that time of year already.

I began my practice of Lent last week. I didn’t get the ashes smeared on my forehead, but I was reminded soon enough of the brevity of life. I chose to practice Lent if practicing is what you do during Lent. I didn’t grow up in a faith tradition that observed the church calendar. Our fellowship lights the candles during Advent. Everybody likes to anticipate Christmas, but we barely give a nod to Lent. 

There’s this unsettled feeling that comes with the practice of Lent. I don’t really understand it completely because honestly, I’m still learning. I may have some understanding concerning the weather because I’ve lived in the same place in the world my entire life, but that isn’t how I feel about this season of Lent. 

The older I get the more aware of I am of my sin, how I fall short of the life that God has for me, the one I’d live if it weren’t for the flesh. I consider this revelation to be grace. How puffed and proud I lived for most of my life. 

 I’ve been walking new paths, treading over new ground in order to dig different ruts as I walk the road in the second half of my life. This first week of Lent I sense it, how apart from Jesus, I am so far away from being holy, yet I know I am loved. Jesus calls me his friend.

"You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another." (John 15:14-17 ESV)

One of the challenges I'm facing as I have set an intention to grow in my faith is accepting and learning to live with Jesus as my friend. I haven’t always been good at friendship although I have many friends—some of them for half of my life. I love them very much, but I admit, there have been times when I didn’t engage like I should have. I held back. It grieves me. They've given me grace and I know Jesus will too—even more. His invitation is clear, “Come to Me.”

Last week one of my friends stepped into the Lord’s presence after losing her battle against colon cancer. We didn’t see each other often since she lived in another town. I called her a friend of my heart because when we were together the time was rich with the things that matter. I always stepped away from those times feeling full. I think of her now and I see her smile, her eyes wide and beautiful. Whenever she opened the door to her home, her countenance told me I was loved.

A few days later, a card came in the mail, sent for my birthday from a friend in another state. So fun to get snail mail these days! She reminded me that our friendship has lasted over thirty years. We lived in the same city for only a year. We maintained our friendship on the phone and in letters before the Internet made it easy to connect over the distance. We have only seen each other for short visits over the years, sometimes going years between them. Our friendship is a gift, a miracle when it should have been a memory. 

These two friends— and all of my other friends— bring so much richness to my life. I’ve needed all of them to become who I am. I will need them still for the days ahead. Debi is in eternity and Lisa lives miles and miles from me, yet they continue to influence my life. I hope I have brought something to their lives as well. We need each other. I’m still learning how much.

Isn’t it incredible that Jesus calls us his friends? He could have ruled as a taskmaster, made us slaves, demanding that we produce fruit. Instead, He calls us friends. He helps us to bear fruit in the world where he planted us. He himself made a way to become the resource to live in abundance, to bear the fruit of righteousness and to offer it to others---one friend to another. He absolutely wants this kind of beautiful world for us, for everyone.

As I walk the dusty path of Jesus’ feet toward Easter morning, I want to observe His life from the standpoint of a friend. I want to understand what our Creator Savior Friend has done for me, for us. I want to see Him live in human skin and interact with those who loved him and those who hated him. I want to see how I could live if I let Him have my whole life. I want Him to teach me how to be a friend of sinners, for surely He has been one to me.

If you aren’t practicing Lent and you think it’s too late, I encourage you to get on the path. Join us—so many on this dusty way headed for Jerusalem. There’s so much to learn about our Friend. He invites us to go with him, to watch amazed while he rides a donkey. He'll offer us a drink from his cup, offer to wash our feet and to join Him in prayer in the garden. 

We won’t do this Lent practice perfectly. There’s grace for Lent. We need Jesus, our Friend to help us. He has and wants to if we will follow.


  1. Dea, like you, I have never been a part of a fellowship that practises Lent, but over the years, practising it has become more and more meaningful, making Easter much bigger in my heart, and enabling me to appreciate Christ's death and resurrection much more than if they were just 2 days in a year.
    I too am learning about being a friend of God.
    Isn't it almost too wonderful to comprehend?
    I try to still my busy mind and allow mayself time to sit with Him and listen to Him as I would to a beloved friend.
    It takes much effort and practice!
    BUT it is so worth it,
    While I may not hear anything during my time of being present in His Presence, things happen that I am convinced only happened because of this shared time together.
    Wonderful indeed to be a friend of God.
    Blessings to you Dea. Love, Mary.

    1. Thank you for sharing your journey and experiences, Mary. Yes, it is amazing to know that we are God's friends. I'm learning that as much as my quiet times are for growing in friendship with God, I realize that when Jesus is central in friendships with people then He can teach us through those friends, all of us together. This truth, of course, makes life so beautiful. We can be with God alone and with others. He has the best ideas! So happy you stop by here, Mary. Thank you always for your love and encouragement.

  2. Dea, this is so good for so many reasons, one of which is this: your voice is becoming clearer. It almost made me cry reading it. And the photos are stunning too! You know how to be a true friend, you've practiced a lot on me and I'm grateful. He is my dearest friend and lately, I've been wanting to listen to Him more, not for what I can learn but because I want to be His dear friend too.

    1. Just getting to the page has been a challenge of late so thank you for "hearing" my voice in these words. Maybe all this writing craft I've been working at for so long is taking shape? Concerning our friendship, wow! God has been so good to us! Talk about a miracle! I love it, of course. I've needed you and you've helped me become who I am---a grace from God to both of us I believe. xx


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