Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Yesterday the great weather prognosticator, Punxsutawney Phil, made his annual prediction about winter’s grip or release on our land. Emerging from his hole he saw his shadow, which of course, means six weeks more of winter. Interestingly enough, his human counterparts on local weather stations are forecasting more snow in the next few days.

Whenever February 2nd rolls around I am reminded of the movie with which this day shares its name - GROUNDHOG DAY! This film, starring Bill Murray as disgruntled and petulant television weatherman Phil Connors, is a true study in the process of re-tooling human behavior. Covering the special day’s event, Phil becomes hopelessly trapped in a time warp that causes him to have to repeat the day over and over, with everything and everyone in sight, except him, set on REPLAY. The only changes around him come as a result of his actions, literally re-writing history. He is the only one who retains an awareness of each and every “re-write” which takes place. Can you imagine the possibilities of such power?

His first impressions are understandably disturbed. Then resigning himself to his fated repetitions, he realizes that regardless of his actions, there are no consequences faced the next day. Feeling trapped he initiates a spiraling cycle of self destruction that involves bank robbery, drunk driving altercation with police and other immoral activities culminating with several suicides, all to no avail, for he still wakes up at 6:00 a.m. to a fresh, new February 2nd. Finally coming to the end of himself, and out of what has been a latent attraction for his pretty producer, he begins the process of daily learning about her likes and dislikes, each day gaining enough knowledge to change her initial loathing for him into an attraction herself. He, of course, has not changed, but uses his knowledge for his own conquest. When his true nature is revealed, she rejects him again and again. Now realizing his real problem, he sets about to re-create a true and new Phil Conners. He seeks to help a homeless man, changes tires for helpless ladies, rescues children and adults in dangerous circumstances which he alone can forecast and thus, lend aid. Coupled with these actions he learns through his repeated cycles, to play the piano, to do ice sculptures, and to embrace everyone with a spirit of joy and pleasure. This transformation from his pre-Feb. 2nd persona ultimately wins the heart of his producer, and just as suddenly as the cycle began, it ended happily for the two.

I’ve given this brief on the film to give you my “take” on how we can apply it to real life. We’ve all heard the typical remarks made by people who rue the mistakes they make from time to time. “If I only had it to do over, things would be different!”, “If I could only turn back the pages and re-write my past!”, or, “If I had only not said what I did!”, and the list of remorseful wishing goes on. Indeed, all of us would love to have Phil’s power if we could plan and control it. The only problem, it would be like his approach and we would come near to destroying ourselves and others through selfish applications. The truth emerges from its place just below the surface of the storyline, when Phil begins to redirect his life toward others, with his own self wants relegated to last place. There is the place of real power and the “where with all” to change things for the better in the lives of others, which has a reciprocal effect on his own future.

The question may be raised, “without the power to re-live lost days, how can we change the world and recreate our own future, as well?” The answer is not as far from our reach as we may think. Simply stated, its been said many times in our hearing. “Live one day at a time.” And we are given the promised ability, not to re-do the past, but to make the very best day we can, today. With the truth of God’s Word and the guiding Holy Spirit to prick our conscience, we have sufficient awareness of right and wrong to make the right choices and to act accordingly. We may not have the “time cycling” to learn to play the piano or ice-sculpt in “one day”, but with each day’s commitment and application, who knows what we might accomplish in several “one day’s” time.

The Scripture’s ARE RICH in showing us the way to change our lives and our world, too. Paul writes one of my favorite’s. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God…Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered….And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:15-28)

Oh, yes! About Punxsutawney Phil’s prognostication of another six weeks of winter, I don’t really believe he can predict with certainty, any more than my local weather guys and gals. The writer’s of the script did a masterful job of putting two concepts together. The movie’s groundhog said there would be a long winter ahead and for Phil, his winter of discontent was certainly that. Our application might be that regardless the weather, we know Who is the real WEATHER FORECASTER, do we not? And if He is in control, we can live joyfully with hope, sunshine or snow!


POSTSCRIPT: It's Feb. 4th and the ground is already covered in snow again and still coming down with more expected during the next few days. Thanks, Phil! Yeah, right!

1 comment:

Ray Edwards said...

Bro, Great analogy. I have seen the film many times and have observed the spiritual application, but you have put in down in writing in a very readable and succinct way.