Today is Groundhog Day. Winter lovers will be disappointed to learn that Punxsutawney Phil, the famous Pennsylvanian groundhog, did not see his shadow, thereby predicting an early spring (for just the 20th time). However, the 1993 movie, Groundhog Day, featuring Bill Murray (pictured above) has nothing to do with when spring will come. Instead, Bill Murray’s character, Phil the weatherman, finds himself reliving February 2 over and over again. I think of it as a Scrooge-type story that is not set at Christmastime. Phil is extremely frustrated by his inability to move past February 2, but in the process of repeating the same day over and over again, he learns some valuable lessons.
We, too, can be frustrated by powerlessly falling into the same traps, problems, bad habits, and sins over and over again. Sometimes it feels like life is a losing struggle or a cruel Groundhog Day joke. Why can’t I be a better parent? Why can’t my marriage be better? If only I could I control my temper! Why can’t I beat this sin?
Breaking Free from Groundhog Day
In our own strength, we really are fighting frustrating battles. Instead, we need to tap into a power greater than ourselves. We need God’s strength. When you put your trust in Jesus for your salvation–when you put your life in His hands–then God offers you His Holy Spirit to help you live for Him. We need to submit to God’s leading in our lives. Too often, even though we might be trusting Jesus to give us eternal life, we aren’t trusting Him to lead us in our daily lives. We take back control. When we do this, we inevitably sin—we disobey God. Because of our personal vulnerabilities, this often leads to seriously unhealthy patterns of sin in our lives that derail marriages, undermine relationships, and generally wreak havoc with our emotions.
The late Bill Bright described the concept of “spiritual breathing” to help us better understand how to break the Groundhog Day cycle of sin in our lives. Whenever we recognize sin, however small, in our lives, we need to “exhale” by confessing it to God. Confess it immediately and claim Christ’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Don’t wait and give yourself time to rationalize your sin. Once you’ve exhaled, then “inhale” by re-yielding control of your life to the Holy Spirit. In faith, ask the Holy Spirit to empower you (Ephesians 5:18) and keep you from returning to sin. Trying to live for God in your own power is like trying to operate your pc while it’s unplugged! It doesn’t work, and it’s really embarrassing when you call tech support!
Fortunately, God is gracious. He loves you. So don’t wallow in guilt and regret. Practice spiritual breathing and break free from the Groundhog Day misery of being stuck in your sin. Take a deep breath. It will feel great!