The History of Groundhog Day
February 2nd being designated as Groundhog Day is believed to have originated in Pennsylvania in the 18th -19th century. It is said to have derived from ancient European weather lore, much of which derived from ancient pagan festivals based on the calendar and weather. According to folklore, if the groundhog emerges from his burrow in the ground on a cloudy day, it will not see its shadow. Not seeing its shadow is said to be an indication of an early spring. Conversely, if the day is sunny, the groundhog will see it’s shadow and will retreat back into its burrow in the ground. This is an indicator that cold winter days will continue for another six weeks. This behavior of the groundhog is repeated every year, with people eagerly waiting for his prediction.
Now understand that we’re not endorsing any kind of silly superstition as a way to predict the weather. Certainly, the groundhog is sometimes right, and other times wrong (but then so are most weather forecasters). What we do know is that every February 2nd the groundhog’s response, upon emerging from its burrow, is anticipated and reported. Every year, without a miss, we will hear if the groundhog saw, or did not see, his shadow.
“Groundhog Day” — the Movie
A 1993 movie expanded on this “repeatability” nature of Groundhog Day. The movie, titled Groundhog Day, focused on a weatherman who was given the same assignment every year. For the fourth year in a row, he was sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover the annual Groundhog Day events. Begrudgingly, he went and gave his report. However, upon awakening the next day, he found himself in a time loop. Once again it was Groundhog Day. Once again, he experienced the events as they had already occurred one day prior. The same thing happened the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and so on.
Perhaps you’ve seen the movie. Perhaps not. It’s a silly (sometimes funny) movie. We aren’t necessarily recommending that you watch it, we simply reference it to call attention to the message it promotes of history repeating itself. Whether or not you’ve seen the movie, you have probably heard the quip, “it’s like Groundhog Day.” That’s a saying used in reference to a repeatable event — something that happens over and over again.
Been there! Done that!
That’s another saying that reminds us that history often repeats. As Christians, we know of another kind of “history” that often repeats. Sadly, we often commit the same sin over and over again, but unlike the character in the movie, we have the Power to stop the repeatable. We should never have a defeated attitude or a discouraged heart. We have free will to choose what we think, say, and do, and we truly do possess the Power to make the right choice.
As Christians, the Power of the Resurrection, the Holy Spirit, indwells us. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to us, promising that He would guide and teach us all things (John 14:26, John 16:13, 1 John 2:27). We can consciously determine to choose how we respond to things, thereby stopping the recurring sins in our lives. What may have tempted us to sin in the past can be consciously avoided or responded to differently when we allow the Holy Spirit to direct and protect. It’s His job and He doesn’t mind doing over, and over, and over, again!
Victory Begins in the Mind
God has given us the power to reason and He invites us to reason with Him:
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: (Isaiah 1:18)
How do we “reason together” with the Lord? We do so by renewing our minds. How do we “renew our minds?” We do so by “feeding” our minds on the “milk and meat” of the Word. The apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians giving them a prescription for feeding the mind that is renewing and transforming:
Phil 4:8 …whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Focusing on those six things — whatsoever is 1) true, 2) honest, 3) just, 4) pure, 5) lovely and 6) good report — will create in us a peace in our hearts and a purity of mind that allows the Holy Spirit to work in and through us to give us victory over sin. The Bible declares this. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we have the power to overcome sin:
Ro 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
Choose, This Day, Your Repeatable History
Just as Joshua exhorted the nation of Israel to “choose this day whom you will serve,” (Josh 24:15), we must choose what we put into our minds. For what we think, we serve. Our lives move in the direction of our most dominant thoughts, because as we think, so we are (Prov 23:7).
Commit today to immerse yourself in prayer and in God’s Word. Feed your mind with His truths. Then the choices you make will be guided by a surrender to His will and the power of His Spirit. The Christian life is to be lived in the Spirit. Let Him be the Power in your life.
Let your “Groundhog Day” be a Day of Repeating Godly Responses
- Continue to renew your mind in God’s Word and keep your eyes focused on the One Who gives you the power to live a godly life.
- Determine today to build a history of godly thoughts, words, and deeds that will give victory in living a godly life.
- Let history repeat as you live your life in service to the One Who has given you everything.
Even in the secular movie Groundhog Day, the character’s life didn’t change until he made the choice to re-examine his life and his priorities and put an end to his sinful ways.
So on Groundhog Day, whether the groundhog sees or doesn’t see its shadow, and whether spring comes early or winter days repeat, let spring come alive in your heart. February is, after all, the month of love. With red hearts, candy, and flowers let February be a reminder that you are to live your life for the One Who loved you enough to give His life for you.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
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