PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• I woke up to the sound of thunder this morning, which is always kind of weird to hear in December. And since storms are on the radar all day, this translates into a fun-filled day of negotiations with a 90-lb Labrador, who is terrified of loud noise, and my attempts to reassure her that it’s safe to go outside to potty.
Then, there’s that old wives tale to contend with that basically says, “Thunder in winter—you’ll have snow in 7-10 days.” For those who actually like snow and get excited about the idea of a white Christmas, I hate to burst your bubble… in 2014, a news station in New Bern, NC investigated this claim and found that in the previous 64 years, the wives tale was only accurate 14% of the time. With those kind of stats, I embrace my inner-Katniss Everdeen and say, “May the odds be ever in your favor.” (But I say it sarcastically and silently chant—“no snow, no snow, no snow…” Sorry, y’all… I don’t like winter and would be happy to celebrate Christmas in flip flops and air conditioning.)
But we were originally talking about thunder… When it comes to thunder in the Bible, there’s actually a lot said. But the thing I think of the most is the nickname Jesus had for brothers James and John—“The Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17). Without context, some might hear that nickname and assume we’re talking about a couple of tag team wrestlers. But don’t cue up any pyrotechnics or signature theme song just yet.
Jesus assigned this nickname to them without a lot of explanation, but we get a glimpse into some fiery dispositions that seem to correlate with the nickname. For instance, when a Samaritan village rejected Jesus and His disciples in Luke 9:51-53, we see some stormy tempers in Luke 9:54. It says, “And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (ESV). (Spoiler alert—Jesus said no.)
While James was one of the early martyrs for the church, John died of old age in his 90s. Though John always had a heart on fire for Jesus, it seems his thunderous qualities quieted with time, age, and most of all, wisdom. Later this Son of Thunder would be rebranded as the Apostle of Love, and indeed the theme of 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John all center around love. In 1 John, the term “love” is used over 40 times! In a book that is only five chapters long and 105 verses, that’s quite a lot!
All that to say—I love that thunder reminds me of the Sons of Thunder and how God can use our passion and zeal, that may be fiery at times, and tame it into something beautiful.
The Son of Thunder became the Apostle of Love. And if Jesus can make such revolutionary change in the heart of John without compromising John’s spirited enthusiasm, think of what He can do for us! I know He’s made major changes to me and I’m still a work in progress. How about you?
Today, as you pray, thank God for reminders that He can reshape our hearts from something as fierce as thunder to something beautiful that reflects the love of Jesus Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be moldable—willing to be reshaped by His hands.