Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Calls Out Our Courage

Naked trees etch the darkness. Cold air seeps in, chilling my bare feet and hands, despite the heat on.

Courage falls flat some nights, and I pray hard, reading and re-reading every word typed or scrawled, weighing the terms, the message, the need, and hoping it shows my heart and nothing else.

In a blinking online text box, I hesitate and then respond, choosing each word carefully, prayerfully deleting and re-typing until it feels right. Is it? I can only speak to what I've seen, learned, experienced. I type tremulously, confessing my own brokenness, gushing wild about God's pursuing patient love, his tender transformations in my heart and life, and then hang quiet in the wonder of him. After anguished reading and re-reading it, I click "Enter."
Photo credit: Anders Klint
Naked trees etched the darkness. Cold air seeped in, chilling their bare feet and hands, despite the fire crackling beside them.

Courage fell flat some nights for them too, I imagine. Wrapped up for a chilly overnight, the men guarding the sheep that night in biblical Bethlehem probably started their night like any other night. After a terrifying encounter with angel army choirs, though, everything changed. They changed.

Nobody else in the Christmas story sees angels or miracles that night. Mary and Joesph had angel conversations in the past, but that was eight or nine months ago. In the quiet sleeping town of Bethlehem tonight, only the shepherds see angels.

Everyone else... they don't hear angel choruses, they don't cower from bright lights bouncing off Middle Eastern hills; they don't see miracles that night. Everyone else just gets to hear the shepherds talk, see the shepherds' responses.

Imagine the courage it took those sheep-wrangling men to wake up people at the inn, to peek in on sleeping guests, and then to spill the story to their hometown family and friends. 

"You'll never believe what we saw and heard tonight..."

It took courage to speak of wild otherworldly encounters; to share how they saw the Creator at work; and to risk ridicule, rejection, and rumors.

"And all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them."

I have a brand new gift Bible that I have been writing in and working on since October to give to a dear one. I'm not sure how he'll respond, but I am convinced I need to do this. And yet, friends, I confess, my courage falls flat some days. But this? This is life! And so, with tremulous hope and praying, I'm going to write a note, and send it off.

Speaking only to what I've seen, learned, and experienced about God, I will share my brokenness, cry out joyfully about God's pursuing, patient love, and his tender transformations still at work. Hanging quiet in the wonder of him, I'll click "Print."

Join me this Christmas? Race away from the crackling fire and heated home, and bravely tell someone what you have seen and heard from the Creator of the world. Humbly, respectfully, tell your story. 

(Photo Credit: Anders Klint)


Jayne said...

I truly believe that if we Christians would each take our calling to share the gospel more seriously, more would come to know Christ. Thanks for the encouragement!

Misty said...

As our family has been doing Advent I've been thinking a lot about how society has made it easier to not take the responsibility of sharing the gospel seriously...
beautiful written, and convicted post.

Floyd said...

And we're all broken. Wisdom, peace, and joy, follow humility and obedience to Him. You're not alone. Thanks for the reminder to share even when it's not comfortable.

Alecia Simersky said...

We're all beautifully broken and in desperate need of a Savior. I've been convicted lately of not being more of a witness to my lost friends. Their lost and I know the consequences of being so, I should be more desperate to tell them of the love that saved me. But, I'm afraid of pushing them away.Thank you for this reminder, it was much needed. Hope you have a Merry Christmas!

Unknown said...


Dolly@Soulstops said...

Praying the person you are sending your story to will respond to Christ's love and see your heart full of love behind your gift...and yes, we are all broken and we can only point to what God has done in our own lives...Merry Christmas :)

Cheryl Barker said...

Jennifer, I pray that the Bible you send your loved one will be well-received and that it will forever change his life. We know it can.

Have a wonderful Christmas with your family, Jennifer!

Jennifer Dougan said...

Mm, that's convicting, Jayne, to remember that God chooses to have us partner with him, in telling people about him.

Merry Christmas,

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thank you, Misty.


Jennifer Dougan said...

Thanks, Floyd. Always nice to have you here.


Jennifer Dougan said...


Your line "I should be more desperate to tell them of the love that saved me" is poignant and convicting to me.

Thank you.

Merry Christmas,
Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...


Yes! I remind myself of this tonight too.

Merry Christmas. Join me in praying for God to do amazing things, will you? Is there anyone you are praying for too, that I can join you in also tonight?

Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thank you, Dolly. Yes, God, we ask this?

Thanks for stopping in.

Merry Christmas,
Jennifer Dougan

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thank you, Cheryl. Yes, amen.

I have been thinking about you as you must be grieving your mom this season.

Merry Christmas, friend,
Jennifer Dougan