The month of June has always been an important month for me. Not only was I born in June, but eight years ago on my birthday I married my help-meet. Other events in my life that have happened in June include moving to England a few weeks before my fifth birthday, and moving back to the States a few days before my eleventh birthday. When I was teaching, I always enjoyed June as it tended to be the most stress-free month of the year as I could sleep in and recover from the events of the preceding months. For the longest time, June makes me remember other events I was a part of in my younger days that I still think about on the verge of almost a half century of life. After my junior and senior years of high school, I had the honor of participating in what was then known as the Atlantic Regional Mathematics League contest (now known as American Regions Mathematics League, or ARML), along with many other students who enjoyed mathematics and competing in challenging contests. Thirty plus years ago, the team from my home state of Texas was the team that traveled the farthest to the competition site; it was at the University of Maryland outside Washington DC. Today, it is split up among four different sites (Penn State, The University of Georgia, The University of Iowa–where the Texas team competes now, and UNLV). Fast forward another decade, and life took me to Ridgecrest, NC–home of a large Christian conference center that is part of the Southern Baptist Convention’s LIfeWay Christian Resources. I spent eleven memorable weeks working alongside mainly college age students mainly from the Southern states, experiencing the closest thing to a Summer Missions project in my Christian life. Nowadays, the students who work there are not as numerous as they were in 1992–nor do they spend the entire summer, with many of them returning home after August 1.
A recent pastime I have discovered is watching You Tube videos of MLB and NFL games from my teenage years. It is nice to recall the days of great 1970s teams like the Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Dallas Cowboys–along with seeing how the Houston Oilers erased the stigma of back-to-back 1-13 seasons and rebuild into a playoff caliber team with great players like Curley Culp, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, and Earl Campbell. Nowadays, the Oilers are the Tennessee Titans and the game has changed from a balance between running/passing to one where teams pass a majority of the time each game.
While it is nice to visit the past, God has been reminding me not to stay there. In January 1985 at my home church in Live Oak, TX, I preached a sermon about “Pressing On” based on Philippians 3:12-14. Events of the past two years have made me yearn for a more predicable life like the one I had when I was teaching high school Math and Spanish between 2003 and 2009; but it appears as if those days will never return again. My dear wife and I are facing a layoff from our current employer; and while the prospects look bright for us to return at least two weeks later to work on a new campaign, I have considered what would happen if we do not get to return right away. What will the Lord have in store for us then?
My challenge to you is simple: How will you press on to achieve the goals and plans Jesus has for you in the coming days and years?
Remembering the past, but choosing not to reside in the past.