Turning thunderstorms to thundersnow

April 15th, 2020
This article is featured in the Growing Spiritually issue of Ministry During The Pandemic

Editor's note: This article is the first in an ongoing series from the author related to the release of Gospel Discipleship: Participant Guide and Gospel Discipleship: Congregation Guide (Abingdon Press, 2020). Find more posts here and follow the month-long digital release party on Facebook.

Gale-force winds arose, and waves crashed against the boat so that the boat was swamped. 38 But Jesus was in the rear of the boat, sleeping on a pillow. They woke him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re drowning?” He got up and gave orders to the wind, and he said to the lake, “Silence! Be still!” The wind settled down and there was a great calm. (Mark 4:38-39, CEB translation)

I have experienced thundersnow twice. Both times were in my early life growing up on the Great Plains. I have not had this experience since I moved to Arkansas, but if there was a place where thundersnow regularly happened, I would seriously consider moving there just to experience it again.

For those of you completely unfamiliar with the experience, imagine a thunderstorm. One of those storms with sheets of rain coming down and pounding your roof, water cascading through streets and ditches, lightning every few seconds, and thunder rolling through, shaking the window panes of your house and vibrating the earth. Got it? Now turn the rain to snow. What happens? It is still snowing to beat all, but it is silent. When snow hits, it does not make a sound. It also lands and sits stillit doesn’t flow like rain. But also, every time there is lightning it reflects off millions of surfaces. It is as if the whole world is illuminated. And the thunder? The thunder, which was rattling everything, is still audible. But the snow—the snow catches the sound. It muffles everything. You can still feel the vibrations. But it is like the low purr of a cat rather than the pounding of a jackhammer.

This is what it feels like to be a disciple of Jesus. Discipleship does not remove the storm. Discipleship transforms the storm. 

But how does that transformation take place? Well, it is helpful to have an idea of what discipleship is. But even more helpful than that is understanding who I am as a disciple, and what that means when I am called to serve. That is what drove the creation of Gospel Discipleship: discerning who I am and can be as a follower of Jesus Christ.

"Gospel Discipleship" by Michelle J. Morris. Order here: https://bit.ly/GospelDiscipleshipParticipant

Gospel Discipleship has helped me better understand the kind of disciple that I am, and having that understanding has helped me realize how I will and should respond in a situation just like the one we find ourselves in now. This is a social storm of epic proportions, dealing with the unfolding of events related to COVID-19. I admit, there are moments in my days when it is a thunderstorm. But if I can catch myself and refocus around my discipleship, then it transforms to thundersnow. Oh, there is still a storm going on around me, but I can see the beauty in it. I can see the opportunity to reflect light on the world instead of losing my footing under a shaky world. I can envision making snow angels rather than getting swept away in the flood.

So how has Gospel Discipleship done this for me? Well, knowing my primary and secondary type has  helped explain much of my anxiety. Secondly, though, it has given me a vision for the roles I can play in this time. So I am primarily Markan, secondarily Johannine. Now what does that tell me about my anxiety? Well, the Markan in me looks for direction from the Holy Spirit. All this noise that is crowding the airwaves right now is making it difficult for me to hear the Holy Spirit, and that makes me incredibly uneasy. Also, as a Johannine, I am looking for confident, calm, and clear leadership. In many spheres of our society right now, that is in short supply. Plus, there are too many people clamoring to be an expert right now. That has my Johannine radar right up. (Because some of you are wondering, Matthean anxiety will center around restrictions on being able to serve needy neighbors, and Lukan anxiety will come out as wanting to connect with and protect their people, which right now can be conflicting responses).

But then what does knowing my type help reveal about how I can live my discipleship right now? Markans have, at least on some level, waited our whole lives for the way we have always done things to no longer work. This is a real opportunity for creativity and innovation, and as a Markan that is incredibly exciting for me. The innovation I am ready to lead actually ties in well with my Johannine discipleship: I am trained in online teaching, and I manage an online learning system. The chance to share the expertise I have spent years building that is suddenly incredibly useful… that is a Johannine dream come true.   

I invite you to learn your types as well. You can find the assessment for free at ministrymatters.com/gospeldiscipleship (Note that sometimes your emailed results go to your spam folder). Then I invite you to keep up with these articles as I share insights into how people are expressing their discipleship in the midst of this storm. I look forward to all the ways we as followers of Jesus will transform something potentially dangerous and threatening into something beautiful, peaceful, and reflective of the light of Christ.

May your thunderstorm fears transform into thundersnow awe.


Turning Thunderstorms to Thundersnow originally appeared at GospelDiscipleship.net. Reprinted with permission.

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