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It’s Not Groundhog Day!

February 2, 2021

“Then put your little hand in mine, there ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb.”

Sonny and Cher

These words in the soothing voices of Sonny and Cher wake Phil every morning in the cult classic, Groundhog Day. Phil, a weatherman from Philadelphia, re-lives Groundhog Day over and over in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. 

In the well-known plot theme of man vs. self, Phil has to battle his own arrogance and selfish ways to win the girl’s heart. As he lives each day over and over, he notices his patterns, the ways he messes up, and the wrong words he chooses that turn her away. He also has the privilege of seeing what draws her in: learning to play the piano, helping others, being kind, noticing the things that she enjoys. Although he tires of being stuck in this day, he finally realizes that he has endless chances to perfect how he loves her because he knows that no matter what he does, he will see the same thing tomorrow (which is today again!)   

Do you ever feel stuck in a day, repeating the same patterns and making the same mistakes over and over? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to work out these patterns knowing that you could try it again a different way the next day and no one would remember how badly you messed up? 

I know this is true for me. As I have grown in my walk with God, He has taught me how to live by His grace, by His Spirit, and by His strength. But, my old pattern is to work. I grew up learning to look at my behavior to be sure that I was saved. I believed Jesus died for me but I was consistently challenged to make Jesus my Lord and to question if I was truly committed if He wasn’t “King on the throne of all of my life”.  

This teaching, along with my fleshly desire to be the best, created patterns in my thinking that I was never good enough for God. I constantly questioned my salvation and worked hard to prove myself as good.

By His Grace

By God’s grace, in college, I met someone special (my husband) who taught me about the grace message of salvation. We debated the subject quite often but I remember when I understood that assurance was the essence of saving faith, I could debate no more! I realized that I could no longer hold on to the pride of doing it my way. It is God’s amazing grace that saves and I can add nothing to that!  

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9 CSB 

By His Spirit

I understood faith alone in Christ alone, but my patterns of performance remained.  As I walk with God in my journey, I frequently return to the “I am not good enough.” But He renews us day by day and gives us a chance to try again…His mercies are new every morning! 

…for his mercies never end. They are new every morning…

Lamentations 3:22-23  CSB

Just like Phil, I realized that I  have a new chance every day as I focus on His grace and mercy, His work, and His righteousness in me. My service to Him overflows out of gratitude rather than my work to get it right. When I return to the patterns of “What can I do to make God love me more?”, I am not walking in His grace. His grace saves and His grace strengthens us day by day.  

…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness…

2 Corinthians 12:9 CSB

I recently (sigh-the holidays!) slipped back into a pattern of cognitive distortions of self-expectations which led to decreased dependence upon God and increased pride, self-loathing, fear, anger, and apathy. Longing to love others better, I reverted to working hard to do this instead of allowing the Spirit to work through me. I do not want to revert to patterns of not living in God’s grace. But, thankfully, He holds my hand and takes me through the valleys and to the mountains. He is where my help comes from. (Psalm 121:1-2)

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:2 CSB

By His Strength

God in His kindness gave me the Holy Spirit to strengthen me daily by His grace. The work of His Son gives me freedom from the bondage of sin so that I may live victoriously-by His power and not my performance to love others well!

I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16 CSB

After enough days of Phil trying to get it right, he relishes the opportunities to genuinely care and learns to truly love others rather than selfishly manipulate them. The cycle of Groundhog Day is broken! I am thankful that I get to practice walking with God in this life. And when my days are over here on this earth, I will joyfully be in His presence by His grace and be complete and perfect! As I live this earthly life longing to please Him, I imagine He would like for me to wake up each day hearing Him say, “Then put your little hand in mine, there ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb.”    

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