Groundhog Day and the Ice Storm

One of my favorite movies of all time is “Groundhog Day.” For those of you who’ve never seen it, Bill Murray plays a self-centered, egotistical weatherman from Pittsburgh named Phil Connors. He is sent on to Punxsutawney, Pa. to cover, you guessed it, the groundhog who shares his first name. Things are never the same for Phil afterward. You see, he is stuck reliving this day over and over again until he gets it right. For those of us who can recite numerous lines from the flick, “watch out for that first step, it’s a doozie!”

Our lives are a lot like Phil Connors’ in “Groundhog Day”, God has laid out a path for us as to how we are to live and treat others and has given us the means to do so through his Holy Spriit. Yet somehow–just like Phil–we keep messing it up. Our selfish desires get in the way and God, being loving and merciful, keeps giving us “do-overs” in life.

Which brings me to the ice storm here in Kentucky last week. This storm was eerily similar to one that hit here just six years ago. And yes, when storms hit, it is way too easy to become self-centered. Routines are upset and suddenly you focus on how you are going to stay warm, where you are going to sleep, what and where you are going to eat and how you are going to keep your stir-crazy kids from killing each other. Then there’s the pity party. How come we still don’t have power and you do? Woe is me!

I’ll never forget what a man at my church shared with me after the 2003 ice storm. He, too, lost power. Instead of finding a nice cozy hotel room as we did, he and his wife went to our church–which had been converted to a shelter–and served. Sure they needed shelter, but first and foremost they saw it as a opportunity to serve the needs of others. He and his wife had been through more than their fair share of trials in life and his words to me and other men in my church were, “When storms hit, serve God.” Here was someone who had learned through the hardships of life that no matter what trust God and serve him with all of your heart. When he shared this experience with us, I felt like I had truly missed out on something wonderful.

Nearly six years later, I am amazed how quickly I had forgotten that lesson. When the power went out Wednesday around 10 a.m., back came those selfish instincts. Where am I going to sleep? How am I going to keep warm? What am I going to do with all of this food in the refrigerator? My driveway needs cleared. Fortunately, other parts of the body of Christ stepped up to serve in shelters, tend to the elderly, and restore power lines.

Like Phil Connors, I am still pretty self-centered at times. While I’m not wanting another ice storm anytime soon, I’m hoping the next time God presents me with a do-over, I’ll get it right.

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