Today all eyes turn to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to learn what the four-legged weather forecaster predicts for the next six weeks. Exactly how or where this holiday began is not precisely known, but tradition indicates that the German settlers brought the practice with them from their homeland where badgers did the prognosticating. Although no scientific correlation has ever been established between sunshine and shadow on February 2, the lore lives on and provides yet another opportunity for humans to throw a party and enjoy themselves.
Groundhog’s Day was made even more popular by the movie of the same name in which Bill Murray can’t escape this particular day and awakens every morning to repeat it until he finally learns to care about someone besides himself. Unfortunately, the drama includes scenes that are less than stellar as he uses his do-overs to drink heavily and satisfy his lust. Even in the end, when his “love” enables him to escape his loop, instead of treating his lady with honor and respect, he announces his intention of cohabitation rather than marriage.
While I can’t endorse the movie, I can relate to the frustration of not being able to make lasting change. Just watching the movie exasperates me because Murray’s character is powerless to break free of the time chains that confine him to repeat February 2 ad infinitum.
Whether it is laziness, binge television, or sweet snacking, we’ve all experienced the helplessness of trying to change. Deeper behaviors such as alcoholism, drug addiction, lying, and cursing are even more difficult to overcome and no matter our best intentions and endless resolutions, tomorrow often turns out exactly like today.
Perhaps the most pernicious of these traps is selfishness. Because selfish behaviors are encouraged through virtually all media and often reinforced by social norms, talk shows, and popular self-help gurus, they are incredibly difficult to alter. Most of the problems in the previous paragraph actually stem from this root, and they continue to grow and thrive even after our repeated prunings.
The Apostle Paul captured these frustrations of being unable to make real-life changes in Romans 7 where he exclaims, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing…What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Few are unable to relate to what Paul articulates so well. We’ve all struggled with some iron-chained habit at which we’ve thrown everything we had, only to end up in tighter bondage.
Thankfully, Paul answers his question for himself as well as for all of us as he concludes, “Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Jesus enables us to escape enslaving sin from which we cannot break free despite our most strenuous efforts. He alone is able to take the weed of selfishness that thrives in the soil of every human heart and not just prune it back, but completely uproot and destroy it! Jesus is able to break our infinite loops of misery and mistakes and empower us to move forward with a victorious life that is eternally significant.
If you find yourself caught in a vicious cycle of sin, regret, guilt, apology, resolve, and sin again, call on the one who is alone able to spring you free from such frustration and wretchedness. Admit your sin to God and ask him to save you through Jesus’ death and resurrection. At that moment his Holy Spirit will begin pulling weeds and breaking chains within your life. It usually takes some time, and he often enlists the help of other Christians, but he does provide victory to all who honestly seek it in him.
Although selfishness still rears its ugly head and is demonstrated in various forms in my life, I’m thankful it no longer controls me. I’m grateful for God’s work in my own life and in the lives of others to break us free from Groundhog Day type loops. May you sense his freedom and liberty today! In Jesus, George