I suppose the whole world knows who Phil of Punxsutawney is. And what’s not to like about that huggable, furry underground critter who cautiously pokes his head from his den every February 2, and predicts America’s weather pattern for the next six weeks? Be advised he’s a lot older than he looks since he has been plying his meteorological art since 1887!
And you know what? He’s giving competition to the two-legged weather forecasters who led this university to declare a snow day a day in advance a few weeks ago—closing down classes and the campus (all based, of course, on sophisticated meteorologic computer prognostications). But we awakened the next morning to only a thin layer of snow across the lawn. Oh well, what’s not to like about a free snow day! (Actually, I'm writing this on another snow day, and the advance call on this one was spot on—the snow is really coming down—Karen and I shoveled the driveway this morning—and it’ll need it again later today.)
As for Phil the celebrity groundhog forecaster in Punxsutawney, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and his local handlers, he “has forecasted six more weeks of winter 105 times since 1887” (richmond.com/weather/where-groundhog-day-came-from-and-why-we-love-it/article_2804b476-9329-53cf-ad9f-394eb1eb55ba.html). And how many of those times did we actually have six more weeks of winter? Forty-two times, giving Phil an accuracy rate of 40%—pretty good odds—which, as every baseball fan knows, batting .400 puts you in the superstar range. Unfortunately, Phil isn’t trying out for the New York Yankees (though they could use his batting average). According to SciJinks, the NOAA website: “A seven-day forecast can accurately predict the weather about 80 percent of the time and a five-day forecast can accurately predict the weather approximately 90 percent of the time. However, a 10-day—or longer—forecast is only right about half the time” (scijinks.gov/forecast-reliability/). Sorry, Phil.
Anybody want to predict how long this planet is going to last? Hardly! One thing’s for sure—I don’t want to end up being like the mockers Peter critiqued:
Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly (2 Peter 3:3-7).
Peter’s point? The global deluge God promised and Noah predicted turned out to have a 100% accuracy rating, despite the howling critics and scoffers who suffered a 0% accuracy rating. When it comes to the end of the world—whether by water or by fire—we are far better off standing with God, wouldn’t you agree?
Punxsutawney Phil provides us all a cute mid-winter diversion. But he’s just a groundhog after all. If we're really serious about what is yet to come, you can’t beat the accuracy rating of the One who has promised—“‘Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done’” (Revelation 22:12). Jesus is still 100% the Savior, 100% on your side, 100% coming in your lifetime, and 100% eager for you to give yourself 100% to Him. So stick with the numbers and stay with Him—you cannot beat those odds.