We moved from Central Ohio to Northern Michigan late in November of 1996. It seemed so far north to us at the time. It felt like we were driving to Siberia… One thing I noticed right away was how seriously Michiganders up there took their winter apparel. People in Northern Michigan didn’t just wear a cap or a thin stocking hat. They broke out the serious winter head-gear. I have a bit of an eccentric friend who lives up near Alpena and actually owns glacier glasses and headgear made of animal fur.
?The men of the church up north showed up in Stormy Kromers made of thick wool. These men wore big furry, fluffy, funny-looking headgear without any shame or apology. I hadn’t lived here long before I owned a thick balaclava myself that covered everything but my eyes.
When winter comes, real Michigan people are ready for it. Up in Newaygo County the average snowfall was over five feet but our first winter there it snowed more than ten feet. You want to be ready for that kind of thing… The year Lois and I met Michigan saw 355 inches of snow… I don’t suppose there is a human way to be ready for winter on an apocalyptic scale like that.
Out on Bittersweet Farm we like to say, “Every day is a beautiful day.” ..and it is. But beautiful winter days, snowy days, icy days, dark frigid days—let’s just say they require more “adjustment” more preparation than the golden afternoons of autumn, or the fragrant mornings of spring, or the gentle evenings of summer.
* Here in our Pleasant Peninsula it would be a critical mistake not to prepare for winter. I have a mental checklist.
* Remove the mower deck after the last of the leaves is clear and hopefully before the first plowable snow.
* Prep and install the snow blade.
* Check the furnace filters and function.
* Properly dispose of the flowers after the first hard frost kills them and prep the flower beds.
* Winterize… isn’t that a wonderful word… “Winterize” the water faucets and hoses.
* Check the anti-freeze and be sure you have winter stuff in each of the cars.
* Get out your Shackets and sweaters, hats and mittens, scarves and caps and scrapers…
* O and do you know where your boots are, and your snow tires —and your tire chains?
Hey winter is coming to stay for a while and unless you have found a little place in Florida for a few months you need to get ready. If you are a wise and experienced Michigander you are serious about preparations for winter.
This is the time of year when, even when you know it’s coming, you get out of your car to pump the gas and you are shocked by how biting and old the wind can be. It will be six months until you can walk out and get in the car in a T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops again. Let’s be realistic, people. If you are wise you have a checklist for winter preparation. Wise people anticipate what’s coming and they prepare for it like good Boy Scout.
I just wanted to encourage you with this words.
I say all this for a deeper reason than you might think. At Bethel Church I often preach through books of the Bible a “thought-chunk” at a time. I pray for wisdom about which books to preach through. This fall I’m preaching through 1 Peter because Peter was preparing the believers in Asia Minor to prepare for a season that was coming, not a cold season, but a season of misunderstanding, misrepresentation, pressure, and eventually outright deadly persecution.
Here in America, those who are followers of Jesus should be aware and prepared. Most thoughtful leaders see a season of misunderstanding ahead, pressure, even persecution for those who believe the Bible and follow Jesus. If we are going to follow Jesus we are going to have to take up our cross daily. That is what Jesus told those who would follow him. A pastor friend wisely says; “We don’t follow Jesus to get where WE are going. We follow Jesus to get where HE is going.”
Are you ready for when things get hard? Are you ready to be a misunderstood and mistreated minority? Are you ready to face material loss, inconvenience, misunderstanding, discrimination and rebuke? Are you ready to stand alone, even when friends and family-members turn away from following Jesus. Are you prepared to be faithful when you are tempted to re-interpret what the Bible plainly says?
A hard season is coming. God help us to be faithful when it is God’s will for us to suffer.
November 14, 2021