Betsie is not a contributing writer for an online website, Faith Made Flesh. Here is the first article she wrote for it:
There is this particular T-junction in my hometown that I used to frequent quite a bit. When I pulled up to the stop sign, I could either turn left, or right. A month ago, turning left meant going home.
I would turn left there, and then take three rights. The third turn would bring me pulling into our farm’s gravel driveway. A month ago, that was my home–a ski lodge that had got stuck in the thick southern humidity on its way to the snow-covered mountains of Colorado. Completely out of place in appearance, but completely quiet and safe.
I passed fourteen years there. My six siblings (yes, six) and I passed the summers there camping in our front yard with the bright fireflies and underneath the even brighter constellations. In the fall, we would skip and run and rip our way through the surrounding woods like a pack of wild wolves, terrorizing all of the unsuspecting wildlife. During the winter months, we would explore and excavate our farmhouse’s attics during the day, and roast marshmallows around a bonfire by night. We passed fourteen years there like that.
Life was comfortable on the farm. Life was safe there.
I will remind you again of that T-junction I mentioned at the beginning. There is another road there that you can take. If you turn left, you will find yourself surrounded on the side by fields of wildflowers and waving grass, and, overheard, fields of of unpolluted blue and white. If you turn left, there are forests and creeks and deer for neighbors. If you go there, you will never want to leave, and seldom ever do. Many who are born there will also be raised, married, and buried there. It is safe there, it is quiet there, it is home there.
While my family and I passed all those years in the safe recesses of our rural sanctuary, there was a two-story brick house that was divided into four apartments on the corner of N. Congress and Barksdale. Waiting. While my siblings and I were bounding up and down our staircase in endless games of chase, there was blood being spilled on the stairwell of the house on the corner of N. Congress and Barksdale. In our farmhouse, strewn and discarded–and painful–LEGOS were the carpet of choice. In the house in Jackson, it was used syringes and condoms, picked clean bones and animal feces.
When I fell asleep in my warm and cozy attic-turned-room, there were girls hardly older than myself selling their bodies and souls in the attic of the house on the corner of N. Congress and Barksdale. Our home in the country was known for being extremely loud, throwing great parties that were also usually extremely loud, and for baking delicious biscuits. The house in Jackson was known for being a brothel and a crackhouse, a place where you could purchase drugs and then a woman.
At that T-junction, we always turned left because to right would mean that we might possibly pass houses like the one on the corner of N. Congress and Barksdale. To turn right would mean that we might possibly meet the people who lived in those houses on those corners. And if we met them, we might possibly, you know, get involved in their messy lives. And if we were to pass those houses and meet those people who lived inside of them and get involved in their lives, we could not so easily continue to turn left at that T-junction and retreat to the safe recesses of our rural sanctuary. We could not continue to turn left with a clear conscience.
Over four years ago, though, in the midst of our peaceful, 9 to 5, ordinary life, God called us. He said, “Come follow Me” and we came. Do you know where following Him led? Among the plains of Africa and the jungles of Peru, it led us to an inner-city ministry called We Will Go. Which is in the ghetto of Jackson, MS, and is located on the corner of N. Congress and Barksdale. (You think I’m kidding. I promise I’m not.)
We had been right to fear Jackson. Once we started volunteering weekly at We Will Go over four years ago, it became harder and harder to retreat to the safe recesses of our rural sanctuary with a clear conscience each time we left. As time went by, we did meet the people inhabiting those houses, and, as even more time went by, they worked their way into our hearts as we got involved in their lives. Three years of volunteering weekly came and went, and it just wasn’t enough anymore. After three years, the Lord told us to take the next step, which looked like moving to We Will Go to live there as full-time interns.
Around the same time we discovered We Will Go, the Lord told the founders of it that their ministry would someday own the brick apartment house on the corner of N. Congress and Barksdale. So, in faith, they began to pray for it. And one day, not longer after, it was their's. The ministry bought it. They completely restored it. What was once a deteriorating brothel, is now a beautiful house for missionaries to live in. The door is painted red to symbolize the blood of Christ spilled for us, and there is a sign above it that says “Faith House” for in faith, it was given to us. This is the house that my family left our life in the country for and I moved in to this September.
God calls all of us. He does. From the very moment He breathed the universe into existence, He began calling you. He has such great plans for you. But, I’m sorry, you cannot take them in your terms. There will come a day when the Son of God will say to you, “Come, and follow Me.” When they happens, what will you do? Attempt to compromise? Promise to live out His plans from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Wednesday?
If you content yourself with doing anything even slightly less than exactly what He called you to do, don’t. It’s not worth it. I don’t know what the Lord’s purpose for your life is, or what He will ask of you, but I do know and can even go so far as to promise you that it will require everything. It doesn’t mean picking up the pace on the course you’ve already set for yourself. No, it means heading down a completely new course. It’s taking the helm when it’s handed to you and steering in a new direction, rising up when everyone else is on their face. It’s taking the road less taken. Like Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”
So, no matter what it is, building an orphanage in Ghana, Africa or planting a church in Pearl, MS, it will require your life, and it will look completely different than it did before Jesus got a hold of it. It’s only fitting, though, that you would have to radically change your life to follow Him since he gave up His own just so that you could.
‘As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”At once they left their nets and followed him.“‘ -Matthew 4:18-20
We must give up the old so we can take on the new. Sometimes, that looks like purchasing a one-way ticket and hopping on a plane headed to Rwanda. But other times, it is simply the turning of your foot, the altering of your course, the walking on a new path. It is turning right instead of left at the crossroads. The other day, I found myself at that familiar T-junction I had stopped at so many times before. Except, this time, I turned right instead of left. I was headed home.