Scripture Reading: James 4:13-17, Proverbs 27:1, Acts 18:19-21, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
The other morning I sat down and thumbed through some old journals from earlier in my 20s. (Incidentally, if you want a good laugh, go back to another season in life and read about what was important to you then.) Sometimes I mentioned an upcoming event or trip or a boy or some kind of debacle that I’d found myself in. But I always had some kind of a plan in motion.
The trend started early. I once found a to-do list from when I was about eight years old that included “play outside for 1.5 hours.” Because childhood is way more fun when you plan it.
To this day, my tendency to plan is in full effect. Each and every day starts off with a to-do list of what I want to accomplish. I even add the tasks I’ve already finished, just for the satisfaction of checking them off ‘the list.’ Anyone else?
My junior year of college, some of my dearest and I planned a retreat to the suburbs of Chicago. As we pulled onto the freeway, I was in the passenger seat in charge of navigation, giving me the much-appreciated perception of control. So you can imagine my surprise when I looked up from my map to see the car in front of us at a full stop—while we cruised along in pace with the rest of the highway.
What happened next felt so slow that I can remember every moment, but it was, in reality, mere seconds. Everything became eerily silent. My last thought before impact was, You’re about to be in a car accident.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes.
- James 4:13-14
Nothing prepares you for a crash. For the smell of exhaust. The sound of bending metal and shattering glass. The taste of airbag dust. The shock.
As things settled, I leaned my shoulder into the car door and stepped out of the wreckage into the stopped, shocked traffic, the Chicago skyline rising up around me. I brushed the airbag dust off of my shirt and cheeks and took a few shaky steps. For months, I would wrestle with the crash in my dreams as I waded through the feeling of helplessness.
It’s inevitable. We get phone calls or texts or emails that stop us dead in our tracks. The devastating news comes—on-screen, in a letter, or across someone else’s lips. Or maybe, like me, you’ve witnessed or experienced something horrific, something tragic or traumatic. Suddenly, your plans get pushed aside and those to-do lists get burned. You’re left raw and broken, trying to catch your breath.
That’s the moment when you remember the truth: you’re not the one upholding anything. You remember not to “boast about tomorrow, for you don’t know what a day might bring” (Proverbs 27:1). Christ alone holds all things together (Colossians 1:17).
Tomorrow could bring beauty; it could bring heartache. But as I’ve been reminded, even in my darkest moments, Christ holds me fast. Each moment is laced with His grace.
Melissa Zaldivar is a social in the world of academics and an academic in the world of socials. Ever the Enneagram Six, she likes to dream big, talk herself out of it, and then just do the thing already. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Bible/Theology as well as a Master’s in Theology. Her passions include eating Jimmy John’s sandwiches, showing people pictures of her nieces, and nerding out over biblical languages. If you ever need to know anything about obscure Puritanical American history or NASA, she’s your girl.