Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Strong Hands & Wrestling Matches

I scrawl across torn notebook paper that I found in a camp cupboard. Five hundred teens and youth leaders race across a wooded campground, and I pause my conversations, my camp games, and my zip-lining to meet with God.

He's been calling me, and I needed to face the hard questions. Grabbing my ninth or tenth cup of coffee, I poured in creamers to make up for bulk-brewed coffee smoldering for hours over heat, and sat down at a sunny table near the fireplace.

"What's keeping you from total all-out radical obedience here, Jen?" God whispers, and I scratch across white and blue lines, daring to put into words what I have been afraid to speak aloud. In print, they are just as scary, but it helps somehow.

Three pages later, I am face to face with the Creator, and he still asks the hard questions. I answer honestly, and fold the papers up small, slipping them in my back denim pocket.

Three days later, in a tinkling Italian eatery over artichoke pizza and a salad sampler, I breathe deeply for courage and bare my soul to two close friends from college. With flaming face and staring at the table, I draw boxes with my finger on the black smudged table top, as I talk and cry.

They listen, ask gentle questions, affirm their love, pray for me, and urge me to obey the Holy Spirit's obvious promptings.

In the ancient book of Zechariah, there is a section that has grabbed my attention this weekend. Apparently, the Hebrew translation of the word "encourage" is "let your hands be strong" or "to strengthen the hands."

I love that when God talks to his people in this section, he tells them to not be afraid and to let their hands be strong. "Let your hands be strong," God says, as he asks his refugeed people to work on the temple/church there.

"Let your hands be strong and don't be afraid," he tells me today as I wrestle with obeying God in every part of my life, even the agonizing hard parts.  

I love that he tells us to encourage, or to strengthen the hands of, friends who need us. As we encourage, we help them have strong hands for the jobs set before them also.

Thankful for friends who do that to me, and for friends whom I have the honor of helping to strengthen their hands as well... I link with Ann, Duane, Shanda, and Imperfect Prose.

What are you learning this week, friend?

Photos courtesy of Microsoft Clip art


Wise Hearted said...

Jennifer...I can read your struggle in your post. My husband would tell those who say they are not called to be a missionary they should at least struggle with it. Your heart is tender for the Lord. Your post brought a string of thoughts to my mind...that string is the times I struggled with doing God's will for me. I wear a pendant around a chain with the word "courage" on the pendant. It reminds me I need to take courage by the hand and obey. If it were easy we would not need courage. I will be praying for you my sister as you continue to meet with the Lord . Blessings..

Unknown said...

Thank you for this. I feel like God is working in me about something that seems bigger than me because it is, but this gives me comfort, "Let your hands be strong, and don't be afraid." I'm taking that with me!

Unknown said...

Beautiful, Jennifer. I know he spoke to me in a personal way through the words of David. Be strong and courageous!

Unknown said...

Thanks for encouragement I found here...glad you “found me” again:) blessings to you~

Cheryl Barker said...

So glad you have some friends who are encouraging you and helping to strengthen your hands right now, Jennifer. May God bless you and indeed strengthen you to do His will!

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thank you, Betty. I appreciate your wrestling too, and the courage pendant idea.

Blessings tonight to you,
Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...


If I have encouraged your hands to be strong, then I thank God! :)

Smiling with you and cheering you on too,
Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thanks, Suzanne.

Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...

Hi Ro Elliott! Glad to put a site to your name again. :)

Thanks for stopping by tonight.

Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...


Amen, I agree. I am so thankful for them too and strive to be a strong-hand-helper too.

Have a great night, Cheryl, from a misty MN.

Jennifer Dougan

Wise Hearted said...

Betty said...
Jennifer send me your address and I will send you a is my ministry and have given away hundreds as a means to encouraged. Also when I know I am in the prescence of a wise hearted woman. my email address is"

October 25, 2012 6:45 PM

Brian Miller said... is good to have those people to affirm what god is telling you...and nice that you were honest in what you wrote...we need those that come alongside us and labor with us...strengthening our hands...i like that...

good to see you as well jennifer...

Mommy Emily said...

wow, i never knew this. thank you so much jennifer. thank you for your honesty, and your ministry.

AmyAlves said...

Thinking of you now dear Jennifer... may your words bless others like they just have my heart. May your words bless you... as you pray and struggle. Holding our hands out strong, in the work He's about to ask of us. May you rest this weekend. ~ Love out, Amy

LOLITA said...

Thinking of you today, Jen.

You are such an encourager yourself.

So many times when we feel weak, especially in the areas where God is dealing with us or leading us obedience, it is often scary, and we tarry. Glad for friends who "makes our hands strong." Yes, that is what encouragement does for us. Nobody encourages without taking our cases up the altar of Grace. That knowledge alone makes us stronger.

This is a good one, Jen. Thank you and I pray for an easier path to where God is leading you to.

Jennifer Dougan said...

Nice to talk with you, Brian. Thank you for stopping by.

Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thanks, Emily. Thank you for stopping by and for the encouragement.

Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thank you, Amy, and Lolita.

I appreciate you.

Jennifer Dougan