How to Out Live the Polar Vortex

You knew it was cold when the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago kept its polar bear inside! And when every state in the union dipped below 32 degrees on Tuesday (including Hawaii). Suddenly Americans have added two meteorological words to their vocabulary, “polar vortex.” Like a spinning top atop our planet is a band of high altitude winds that circle the Artic. As I heard one meteorologist describe it, when that spinning top slows down and begins to wobble (like any good top can do), that’s when the frigid polar winds dip southward away from the North Pole and when the polar vortex becomes a part of our Northern Hemisphere vocabulary and experience. And what an experience here in little Berrien Springs. Tuesday morning our thermometer at home read the lowest I’ve ever seen it, 13 below. And that was without wind chill. Not even a polar bear deserves to be out in that frigid air. Which is why Andrews University and all the schools in town, in fact in the region, shut down for two frozen days. And while nobody around a campus usually complains about an extra snow day or two, the impact of severe weather is hard to measure. With 7000 flights canceled on Monday and Tuesday across the nation, with the construction industry put on icy hold for a few days, but with the offsetting sale of winter clothing and supplies, economists consider extreme winter weather basically a draw in terms of long term financial impact. But wouldn’t it be great if, even as we humans tend to huddle closer to one another on snow-blown nights, even so there were a concomitant relationship between frigid weather and a drawing closer to God? When you consider the emotional chill that plagues so much of society today—the insular, almost polar freeze that keeps us apart—think of the social (not to mention spiritual) impact our drawing closer and closer to God would have on the people around us. “Come near to God, and he will come near to you” (James 4:8). Not because He doesn’t want to be the first to move. Calvary is crimson proof enough that God always makes the first move! But as a gracious and considerate Friend, God waits to know if you really do want to draw nearer to Him, if you really do want Him to draw near to you. Give the nod, say Yes, raise your hand, lift up your heart—and in that instant “he will come near to you.” In the cover of my prayer journal a few days ago, I scribbled this line: “My prayer and mission—the older I get, the closer I grow.” Want to join me in that New Year quest? Our new mini-series will probe how to do just that—how to be more like Jesus. I hope you’ll share the journey right here at this website ( or right here in worship at Pioneer each Sabbath. “Come near to Me, and I will come near to you.” That’s enough to warm any soul, isn’t it?