Don’t be like that Pennsylvania Groundhog.

Apparently, a rodent, whistle-pig, woodchuck or if you prefer, a ground hog will awaken this morning somewhere in Pennsylvania– without the aid of weather maps, Doppler radar, wind vanes, weather satellites or balloons, barometers, thermometers, and not even the Farmer’s Almanac–  and declare whether (no pun intended) we will experience six more weeks of winter or not. Evidently, this furry creature with no college degree or meteorological credentials of any kind is the great predictor of climate happenings across our varied states. What is the basis of his potentially horrid declaration?  His shadow. The varmint awakens; ventures outside his abode; and should he see his shadow then pull out the parkas and mittens because we’ve got more freezing wintery blasts on the way. That’s it. His fearful response to his own shadow dooms the rest of us to endure ice and cold for six more weeks. Ugh!  I hate that pretentious, overgrown rat!

Are we any different from Punxsutawney Phil? I’ve known plenty of people who base their decisions on fear. Their fear-based decisions and actions occur primarily because of being afraid of the potential outcome. There is the fear of not being liked (people pleasing); fear of conflict (don’t rock the boat even if the boat is being swamped by poor decisions); fear of someone different (can’t love your neighbors if you’re avoiding them); fear of being rejected (can’t delve into any evangelism– what if the person says, “no thanks”); fear of not enough (is the recipe for greed not generosity), fear of death (leads to a conflicted and worried heart) and so many, many more fears. 

Unlike the furry, fraidy-cat-like, Pennamite, Christians know that “perfect love drives out all fear” (1 John 4:18). Believers remember Jesus’ words, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled,” (John 14:1) and “Fear not, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The author of Hebrews wrote: “God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6). Moreover, Bible believing followers of Jesus have probably heard that the Scriptures say to “fear not” exactly 365 times (once for each day of the year). In other words, Christians are to be the most fearless people on the planet. 

Sorry, O Abysmal-prognosticator-of-the-Keystone-State, I choose to not make decisions like you—based on fear. Instead, I’ll follow the faithful Way of Jesus. What would Jesus say? Where would Jesus go? How would Jesus respond? Would Jesus be generous in this circumstance? Life is a giant game of follow the Leader (although it is no “game”). My Leader does not cower to fear but is the One who left the majesty of heaven to save us from our fears and to bring us into glorious hope. Don’t follow the way of a fearful groundhog on the 2nd of February. Follow the Way of Jesus all year long.