Following Christ is a tough journey, but worth the challenge

Minnesota is known for its hearty stock.
You have to have a certain amount of toughness to endure, no enjoy, winters with long nights, sub-zero temperatures and regular snowfalls. People who cannot handle the winters may last a winter or two, but not long enough to become known as Minnesotans.
Minnesotans learn skills that others never dream of, such as using jumper cables, operating snow blowers, scraping car windows with credit cards, and drilling holes in thick ice to go fishing. I confess I haven’t learned that last one. Most learn how to drive properly in snow — which includes knowing how to do donuts in snow filled parking lots (preferably with no cars).
I applaud Nancy Rajanen, superintendent of Waconia Public Schools, for rarely cancelling school during her tenure. Students may grouse that school is in session when it’s snowed or when it’s cold, but I applaud leadership that recognizes that we need to train the next generation of kids to be hearty.
Far too many children are getting driven to school and from school and not learning the value of trying to keep their hands warm while walking home from school after losing their gloves. At least they shouldn’t be kept home at the first sight of a snowflake.
We take pride in the heartiness that keeps the less tough people out of the state. A few years ago North Dakota tested the idea of re-naming the state to Dakota, in hopes of making it more appealing. Changing the name won’t make North Dakota winters milder or help the wind from blowing across the state. And changing the name from North Dakota to Dakota won’t attract people from South California or Florida. With a similar climate, but at least more numerous lakes, Minnesota faces similar climate challenges. We embrace those challenges.
The toughness of Minnesotans makes them a good match for the high calling of following Christ. Following Christ is not for the faint of heart. He said that you needed to hate your mother and father and brother and sister. That isn’t Minnesota Nice. He said that if you were going to follow Christ that you needed to pick up your cross and follow him. Criss-crossing jumper cables between the negative and positive terminals sounds more pleasant.
It reminds me of the advertisement the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton supposedly put in the newspaper for one of his expeditions:
Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.
We can try and make following Christ more appealing, but I prefer to remind people that it is not an easy road. It is a tough and laborious journey. But the payoff is great.

By Mark Sullivan, lead pastor for Promise Community Church in Waconia.