I’ve been trying to take time to think about what the differences are between calling and vocation, every time I get into it I feel pulled back to my own situation with all of it’s emotion, this big move to the UK. The worry and anxiety creep their way in and I can’t help but wonder why? Why are we doing what we are doing? Why England, why the British Isles, why has it been this thing that has been deep in me for so long? Am I addicted to the Royals?
Maybe it goes back to when all the doors shut on Jess and I going to Scotland for an internship back in 2011 just after we got married and just before Heroic Leadership Institute came up on our radar, or to my ministry trip with Michael when we got detained in Glasgow airport and then put on house arrest in 2009, or my study abroad to England in 2006 and 2007? Or watching Rick Steves like a mad man on PBS, or watching Braveheart (did I just write that, please forgive me) or hearing the stories of my family coming over from the old country and being illegal immigrants in Michigan and helping start the first Auto Unions, some paying for it with fists to the face and knives to the gut. Old great great uncles who were bare knuckle boxers in Scotland, and a great great aunt who owned a candy and beer brewing store in down town Glasgow before making her way to Canada to get away from a cheating and abusive husband. Maybe it was the look in my Grandma’s eyes as I sat on her lap and heard her tell the stories over and over again. Seeing the hills of green, the blue Lochs, the dirty cities, with their real grit, filtered and purified by distance and nostalgia. Or maybe, maybe it was something more.
Jess and I are leaving everything that is safe in our lives behind to follow a call or a vocation or something I don’t know what to call it. We are trying our best to hear what Jesus has to say, listening to what our desires and hearts say, searching for what our friends and family have to say, looking at our history and our lives. Piecing together the trail Jesus has us on, and catching glimpses of what it means to move forward with slightly blurred vision. Taking the risk, knowing, it might not work, yet knowing we are following in the dust of our Rabbi.
It really does refine you to take drastic steps in life. At least their is the potential for refining. And the search for the definition of our call is what usually brings it about. I think there are two major parts to our calling as followers of Jesus: The Command and the Commission.
The Command to love God with everything that you are (i.e. heart, soul, strength, and mind) and to love your neighbor as yourself.
The Commission to go to every place on earth and teach them how to be like Jesus and act like Jesus. Bolstered with a promise that He, Jesus, is with us all the way till the very end.
This command and this commission does not change, ever. No matter where I am, where I go, no matter the job I have or even the people I am with, believers or nonbelievers, all the time I am to love God and people with every ounce of my fiber and help others do the same. So that’s the big call right? That’s the thing that drives me, moves us, it’s the very fabric of my design. That is the unquestionable desire of our God.
Then comes our desire. The deep longings of my heart, bound up in my narrative, squeezed through the worldview of my experiences and simmered in my spiritual being over the duration of my days. It ebbs and flows, it pulls and pushes me onto the shore of my amazing adventure. They are the things that allow me to swim with the current into the rushing tide of his Grace. OK enough analogy…
You see in Ephesians, Paul calling this out, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
In Psalm 139, David too says, Mike paraphrase, “God makes beautiful things, He made you, you are beautiful.”
We were made to do something. Now as I said before, it is couched, it sits snug in the “Loving God, people and showing others how.” We even see it in Jesus in John 17:4, Jesus came with a single purpose, to show us our model of loving God and others, it was simple, but costly, it is self sacrifice. So what is Jess and mine’s calling in this next season of life?
Well it seems to be the UK. It seems to be serving, loving God and people in the UK and Ireland.
So we know that much. But why? To tell that story though, I think I need to talk about our discerning. It’s in the discernment that you see the why, and it usually takes time.
Because for some reason God likes to use waiting to refine us and to help us stop and listen, to discover who we are and more importantly who He is.
But I’ll tell that story next time.
(Or you can check out the story tab at the top)