Springtime in Michigan calling

The Rev. Greg Lawton (left) is a Deacon from Michigan serving as the Associate Dean of Students at LCC International University in Klaidpea, Lithuania. Last fall he and students visited the local high ropes park to celebrate a good start to the school year. ~Facebook/Greg Lawton

He went from a campus in Michigan to a campus in Lithuania. A Deacon talks about his calling.

GREG LAWTON
Deacon, Michigan Conference

Just a few more weary days and then, I’ll fly away. No, not to Heaven, but to Michigan for six weeks (although some would argue there is little difference). And to be honest, the days here aren’t entirely weary. The weather has been fantastic lately. 

Our semester ended two weeks ago and there has been a flurry of activity as we wrap up the school year, deal with things immediately before us, prepare for summer and prepare for the next school year. Such is the rhythm of university life. Being busy helps the time move along, but it will be good to be back in Michigan for a while and away from this work. There is plenty to do in Michigan, too, with annual conference, two camps, two weddings, family and friends to see and some business to look after, but it will be in a more familiar place at a different pace.  

I step into new environs. I don’t have a home there anymore, at least one that is just mine. I know I am always welcome in Three Oaks with my parents, and there are other places I could stay, but I’m going to live with my brother-in-law Tim in Holland while I’m not traveling. He graciously offered a room in his home to me. This will be a time for us to get better acquainted, a time to encounter life without my sister Marj, and a time to support each other on the grief journey. I don’t pretend it will be easy, but it is something I feel called to do. 

Calling is an interesting thing. I wonder if people who do not profess faith in Christ experience it like Christians do. I’m here in Lithuania because God “spoke” to me about serving in this place and in this way. I don’t mean that I heard the voice of God, but that from the moment I seriously considered this opportunity, pathways were opened to make it happen. It fulfills some of God’s purpose for my life and allows me to use my gifts and talents while being stretched. Being called doesn’t mean it will be easy, but it’s where you are supposed to be or what you are supposed to work on for a season. That’s what I mean by calling. It’s a part of faithful living. You might get asked to do things that you don’t expect, halfway around the world. Or you may find your deep calling right in the middle of everything you’ve ever loved.

As I was thinking about this calling, I realized that this upcoming trip to Michigan is itself a mission trip. I live and work in Lithuania. My everyday life is here. Coming to Michigan for 6 weeks will be like the many times I’ve left my home to visit some far-off land. There is the travel anxiety, the planning of meaningful things to do while away, the uncertainty of what will be discovered, and the risk of making, renewing, or redefining relationships. And, as was true when I first came here, I travel alone, without the comfort of a team (always useful to watch your stuff when in airports and bus stations). So, I’m adding this ‘trip to the familiar’ to my list of mission journeys and hope to keep that frame of mind as I respond to this calling and return for a spell. 

What is God calling you to do?

 

~Since spring 2017, the Rev. Greg Lawton, Deacon in Full Connection in The United Methodist Church, has served as the Associate Dean of Students at LCC International University in Klaipeda, Lithuania. He blogs at “Gregory by the Sea.”

 

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