Did you miss it? Come on… shame on you. Completely overshadowed by the super bowl, this past Sunday was February 2nd, Groundhog day. I’m a Pennsylvania gal and we all take Groundhog Day seriously.
Each year, on February 2nd, an army of reporters descend on Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to see the weather predictions of Phil, the famous groundhog. If he sees his shadow we can look forward to an early spring and if he doesn’t it’s another six more weeks of winter.
When you live in Pennsylvania, winter can drag on. By Feb, of course Pennsylvanians dream about spring. We’re tired of the gray tint of everything, the melting snow on the side of the road, the cars with a permanent gray layer of filth and of course the typically gray sky. I wonder what it says about Pennsylvanians that we look to a ground hog to lift our spirits.
Remember the delightful movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray? Murray plays a grumpy, self-important TV weatherman who has to cover the silly event every year. He reluctantly does the story on the famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, and is mean to everyone he encounters. When a snowstorm strands the news crew, Bill finds himself, perhaps as punishment the viewer concludes, reliving Groundhog Day over and over again.
After weeks of waking up on the same awful day and in the same awful town, he has an epiphany to be a better person. Now he’s kind and caring and uses this “do-over” day to help the common people of this nothing town. He becomes a changed man. And… spoiler alert, after his transformation, he gets the girl and shazam… wakes up to the next day, February 3rd.
Can you relate?
Can you relate to Bill Murray having to face the same person, the same situation, the same struggle again and again and again? Do you ever feel as if life is just gray or you’re stuck on repeat while you plod along?
Ian has made tremendous, even miraculous, progress. But if you ask him, he still feels as if it’s Groundhog Day and he’s reliving the same-o, same-o recovery. He fights his disability that is at the very least a nuisance and at most even a joy killer. He wants to move on, be done with college, relocate to New York already. In his dreams, in Brooklyn, where it’s never gray, and never the same, he’ll also get the girl.
I’m sad for Ian who endures his present day while longing for an unrealistic dream in his future.
I do it, too
But if I’m honest, to some degree I do it too. When the daily grind feels boring or even burdensome I think about my next vacation. With the distraction, I rouse some motivation almost as a reward for persevering.
But what if there is nothing to interrupt your present reality, nothing to look forward to? Perhaps you’re fighting an illness or your finances keep you planted? Or maybe your circumstances consume every ounce of energy you have. Maybe as it seems to be for Ian, reality just bites. And to accept reality is to somehow settle. And then what?
Where can you find motivation then? Where is the meaning and purpose in that?
As I’ve been praying for Ian and wondering how best to encourage him, the Lord has encouraged me.
Back in the day when my camera was a Canon EOS 35 mm, I often used a 400mm lens to capture things up close. It worked great to zoom in to see the detail of a butterfly’s wing. But, at the risk of missing the beautiful flower it rested upon. In a sense, that is how we live our gray Groundhog days. We look through our zoomed in lens and can no longer see the flower. We lose perspective.
You’ll never be able to make sense out of this life or find lasting hope and motivation in the midst of it, without perspective. And yet, how do we gain or re-gain perspective?
Through a relationship with Him, and from His word, God invites us to zoom out to know the big picture. And when we do we’re able to zoom back in on our current life with new motivation and hope.
With perspective we learn…
First, that our life has purpose even if we’re unsure of what our purpose is. That’s because it’s not entirely up to us, God will see to it.
Romans 8:28 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
With perspective we learn, Second, that there is more to life than now. If our faith doesn’t have a future, and if our story doesn’t end with eternity, there is cause to wonder. We are to be pitied, Paul says. It might as well always be a gray Groundhog day.
1 Corinthians 15:19 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.
Be alert though. We shouldn’t be surprised that the world lacks moral restraint and seeks pleasure for the moment. Because, the world concludes, now is all there is.
By zooming out though, Christians know better. Our lives have direction and purpose. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we relinquish our need to understand the why and the what and the how and we trust God to create beauty from our ashes.
With perspective we learn, Third, that the best is yet to come. Thank God. When we zoom out and focus on eternity real motivation and hope is restored. It’s true, eternity is a heck of a long time! This blip that we’re living right here, right now, is just that… a blip!
1 Corinthians 2:9 “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”
The catalyst for change
I doubt that the movie Groundhog Day intended to provide spiritual truth. But I think the catalyst for Murray’s transformation was the day he zoomed out and gained perspective. Lo and behold, when he zoomed back in and faced his Groundhog Day yet again, he had new hope and purpose and that made all the difference.