‘Cross’ roads

Major Nancy Helms-Cox returns to a significant place in her life.
By Nancy Helms-Cox, Major –
Certain roads—some physical, others metaphorical—impact our lives more than others. I call the really difficult ones “cross” roads. For Paul, it was the physical road to Damascus, where he had a God encounter that totally changed his life, physically and spiritually. For me, one cross road affected me profoundly: Mission Boulevard.
Twenty-one years ago, Mission Boulevard in Hayward, California, changed from a regular road to a cross road. At that time, during my fourth year of Salvation Army officership, my husband and I were serving as Hayward Corps Officers. On Feb. 11, 1996—a normal Sunday afternoon—my husband was killed in a drunk driving accident on Mission Boulevard. He had been on his way to our corps to serve the local homeless population.
A couple of years ago, I traveled back to Mission Boulevard to reflect on its impact on my life. That journey affected me more than I had imagined, as I looked back and saw where God had brought me as a mother, an officer, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a stranger, and most importantly, his child and member of his church. I realized a transformation had occurred in my life as an outcome of this road. I found peace sitting at an intersection that once represented chaos and tragedy.
I understood that my encounter on Mission Boulevard 21 years ago had allowed me to see more clearly what my mission was really about: the people God had placed around me. My encounter there taught me the value of community in a new way, as so many individuals, Christians and non-Christians, gathered around my family with love. Until then, I had a blind spot that concealed the bigger picture—that blind spot was myself. It was a spot induced by pride, which evoked fear, doubt and insecurity. I had been more concerned about my abilities as an officer than my availability as God’s servant.
In the days, weeks, months and years following this cross road experience, I learned that being a Christian meant being conformed to his image, not just for my sake, but more importantly, for the sake of others. Being a child of God and an officer in The Salvation Army was more than just my personal holiness, which is vital; however, social holiness has to be an outcome of personal holiness. Life in the kingdom of God is ultimately life lived in this world, both with believers and with those living in spiritual and physical poverty.
That day, on Mission Boulevard, I asked God, “What am I going to do?” I felt his embrace and heard him say it was “going to be OK.” He sent people from all over to be agents of grace and mercy to me and my family, and then, even in my brokenness, he began to open doors for me to be his agent of grace to others—not only at the corps, but in my neighborhood, in my children’s schools and through already established relationships.
Through my Mission Boulevard encounter with God and those he sent to serve me, a transformation began in my life. I understood more clearly the calling to take up my cross (Matt 16:24) and be there for others, even in the simplest of ways—especially in the simplest of ways. I’ve learned from Mission Boulevard, and other roads, that holiness, both personal and social, involves coming alongside others as agents of healing, wholeness and reconciliation, by meeting physical, spiritual and emotional needs in the name of love—God’s love.
I’m on a new road now, but every so often, I look back to Mission Boulevard and reflect on the turning point that took place in my life there. I still find myself with a blind spot now and then, and as before it is created by pride and insecurities. I still look to God, but instead of saying, “What am I going to do,” I say, “What are we going to do?” Holiness is about loving others through relationship, and God has promised he won’t leave me alone on this journey. He’s with me for the long haul and has given me wonderful neighbors all over the globe to love and be loved by. It’s those relationships that make this cross road called “Mission,” possible.  
God’s greatest command is to love him with all our hearts, souls and minds—and then to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). That is personal and social holiness, and that is our mission. It’s not about rank, it’s not about status or position, it’s not size of congregation, it’s not about looks, it’s not about education, and it’s not power. If I live trying to be fulfilled with those accolades, I live in the insecurity of trying to be someone God isn’t calling me to be. If I live and serve in love, I live in God and God lives in me. There, his mission for my life will be fulfilled.

Sharing is caring!