Stop and take a breath! Markan anxiety in an immediate world

April 29th, 2020
This article is featured in the Growing Spiritually issue of Ministry During The Pandemic

Editor's note: This article is part of a series of articles from the author related to the release of Gospel Discipleship: Participant Guide and Gospel Discipleship: Congregation Guide (Abingdon Press, 2020). Read previous posts here and follow the month-long digital release party on Facebook.

The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Lord’s Spirit is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17)

My whole body is alive with energy. This is the moment the Markans have been waiting for our entire lives. The whole world is having to figure out a new way of doing things. Of course, I do not in any way want this moment to be accompanied by a deadly virus. I would have much preferred it to have been a wild moment when everyone suddenly decided collectively that there are better, or at least different, ways of doing things. But the creativity that is suddenly breaking loose all around me... I have never seen anything like it, and I am beyond energized by it. It is as if I suddenly feel every cell in my body is alive.

And that is wearing me completely out.

In the midst of this unbound moment, which as a Markan I am excited by, I also cannot stand the frantic reality that accompanies it. Moving from panic to panic to panic  I am done. My first breaking point took place a few days ago. I had just finished a 1.5 hour webinar that allowed us to share innovations in worship across the state, and I was charged about that, only to look in my email and see announcement after announcement after announcement for the next things that had to take place. Immediately! Now, if you are familiar either with Gospel Discipleship or with the Gospel of Mark, you know immediately is typically a Markan’s JAM. But too many of those, and especially those that we question whether they are driven from the energy of the Holy Spirit or if people are just panicking and shooting from the hip, and Markans will start to burn with anger instead. Which might be why, when I couldn’t find my keys to go get my lunch in that moment, I turned my purse upside down and shook it until everything was out and I had made a giant mess. My keys, by the way, were in my backpack.

"Gospel Discipleship" by Michelle J. Morris. Order here:

The world is suddenly trying to figure out how to be in a new landscape. Great! Just what Markans have been waiting for! We have been long frustrated by our brokenness and have been ready for something new. But we are also suspicious when we move at such rates or in such ways as to restrict discernment. So, even as Markans are more alive than we have ever been, we also carry our prophetic suspicion with us as well. Are we sure that we are making space for news ways for the Spirit to move, or are we just having a knee-jerk reaction?

This puts Markans in the very weird place of needing to tell the world to SLOW DOWN. I almost can’t believe I am typing those words. Markans usually can’t get anyone to move at the pace we really want to move, and yet here we are, the whole world moving at that pace at once. But movement for just movement’s sake is never what we wanted. Movement because the Spirit called us to move? That’s what we want. And as noisy and frantic as the world is acting right now, well, that does not feel entirely like the Spirit. Some of the movement has the Spirit in it, but not all of it. And we aren’t even asking the questions right now to determine which is which.

So Markans, to face this bizarre space we find ourselves in, we have to be intentional about finding quiet. Finding spaces of rest. Finding spaces where we clear the noise and listen for the Spirit. This is going to be difficult for us to do right now, in part because the world is so noisy in this moment, and in part because we really don’t want to miss any of the energy that is floating out there that we do know is the Spirit (like all the ways people are creatively serving our neighbors and spreading the Gospel right now). I have been checking in with my Markans, and they are fatigued at a level I haven’t seen in a long time. Oh, they're still firing on more cylinders than they ever have, but they're also burning up fuel at a high rate and are nervous that such burning is the kind that will actually do damage rather than the kind that flows from the Spirit and refines.

Make space for prayer. Make space for reading Scripture. Make space for art in the corner, or to write a poem processing all that is going on. Make space for meditation. Listen to the Spirit instead of the news. We have to do this. If we don’t, the fire of this moment will be all-consuming, and we will have nothing left to give when the dust settles and we need to lead people beyond panic into a new reality of being the Body of Christ.

So take a deep breath. Breathe deeply in the Spirit. Just be sure to do so at least six feet away from anyone else.

Feel like you have caught fire with energy in this moment? You could be a Markan. Find out by taking the assessment at

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