Groundhog Day & Grace

Happy Groundhog Day! I’m not sure which will be more on the minds of most Americans today: the hilarious 1993 movie starring Bill Murray or whether or not Punxsutawney Phil, that famous 132-year-old furry forecaster, saw his shadow this morning.

Just in case you don’t know, Groundhog Day is not a national holiday. It became an official observance in 1887 at Gobbler’s Knob near Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

According to tradition, if Phil sees his shadow after he emerges from his underground home, it will scare him and he will retreat back into his burrow to hibernate through six more weeks of winter.

But if he doesn’t see his shadow, then we can expect an early spring.

Frankly, this has never made sense to me. If February 2 is a sunshiny day in Gobbler’s Knob, then it is bad news for people who don’t like wintry weather.

And if it is a cloudy day, then it’s good news. Weird.

You might be surprised to learn (as I was) about the origins of Groundhog Day:

Groundhog Day can be traced to early Christians in Europe and the custom of Candlemas Day, which marked the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

On Candlemas Day, the belief was that clear and sunny conditions signified a long, harsh winter and that cloudy conditions indicated that warm weather was approaching.

The Germans eventually adopted this custom, incorporating a hedgehog and the belief that if the animal cast a shadow during sunny skies on Candlemas Day, it indicated six more weeks of bitter cold.

When German settlers arrived in Pennsylvania in the 1700s, they brought the tradition with them. However, because hedgehogs were scarce in the region, they were replaced with the more abundant groundhog, which was also considered sacred among the local Native Americans.*

Now, for those of you who have not yet heard the news today (February 2, 2018) and would like to rely on this renowned rodent’s revelation, then … drumroll please … Brace yourself for six more weeks of winter!

This, of course, means that Phil saw his shadow this morning at Gobbler’s Knob.

So, how much stock should we actually put into Phil’s weather-forecasting prowess?

To date, Phil has made 132 predictions—a long winter 104 times and an early spring 18 times. There is nothing recorded on 10 occasions.

And guess what? He’s only been right about 40 percent of the time.

There seems to be an awful lot of hoopla surrounding this tradition that doesn’t have that great of a track record.

That’s my opinion. For what it’s worth.

All this talk about predicting the weather reminds me of something incredible that Christ speaks to His bride, the church (those who have believed into Him), in the Song of Songs:

“For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone” (2:11).

This verse has nothing to do with natural seasons and everything to do with the eternal spiritual realm believers in Christ now live in under the new covenant of grace.

I wrote about it in my recently published debut book, His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love:

In Song 2:8, the maiden’s Beloved revealed Himself to her in a new light—as a resurrected, conquering King in all His glory. Then she exclaims:

“Listen! My Beloved! Behold, He is coming, climbing on the mountains, leaping on the hills.”

Immediately after that, He invited her to join Him in expressing His love and life to the world, saying,

“Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along” (Song 2:10).

Then He gave her the reason that the time was now to join Him:

“For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone” (2:11).

The Beloved Shepherd is stating the reason that it is now time for the maiden to join Him—the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. He is saying that the winter rains of the law—the system of works-based righteousness—is over.

Now that the maiden has begun to experience the glorious freedom of the new covenant of grace, He wants her to join Him in sharing with others how they can experience the same freedom.

The good news of the gospel of grace is that no one has to earn the righteousness that God freely gives. Jesus paid it all. All they have to do is believe into Him (John 3:16; 19:30; 1 Cor. 6:17; 2 Cor. 5:21).

You may be wondering if I’m suggesting here that everyone go door to door with evangelistic tracts.

No. But I’m not discouraging it either. Those who have the gift of evangelism may do this and do this well (Eph. 4:11).

What I am suggesting is that every Christian’s life can be a witness of the new covenant of grace to others.

When our lives are an expression of our Beloved’s cherishing love and exuberant life, people will be knocking on our doors, asking where they can get some of what we’ve got.

And we will be able to tell them that what we’ve got is the resurrection life of Christ—also theirs for the receiving.

Dear reader, Jesus really did pay it all. All it costs us is our belief in and acceptance of His life as a free gift.

If you are a believer in Christ, then He has already made you the righteousness of God in His Son (2 Cor. 5:21).

Spiritually speaking, this means you are already living in the eternal spring season where new life abounds under the new covenant of grace!

Christian, if you are still living as if you are under the harsh winter rains of the law, then decide today that you are going to stop it!

Stop living as if Jesus’ work on the cross was unfinished (John 19:30).

And start living in the righteousness, peace, and joy He died to give you (Rom. 14:17).

Hey, you might even want to take a Sharpie and write “GRACE DAY” underneath “GROUNDHOG DAY” on your calendar to commemorate this decision you’ve made to live in the perpetual spring of grace.

No more winters for you in Christ!

If you liked today’s post, I believe you might enjoy my debut devotional study (released September 2017), His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love.

I wrote this book to help Christians enjoy greater intimacy with Christ through understanding their flawless identity in Him revealed through the first two chapters of the Song of Songs.

I invite you to check out its reviews on Amazon and consider getting a copy for yourself.

If you would rather order one directly from me, please email me.

Until next time,
Live Christ—Live Happy!

P.S.  If you enjoyed this post and want to know more about me and the types of content I post, please visit my About Page.

*Spencer Kent, “Groundhog Day 2018: Will Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow? What does the result mean?”, last modified February 2, 2018, NJ.com, accessed February 2, 2018, http://bit.ly/2FBRaSs.

Disclosure of Material Connection: One or more of the links in post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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