Scripture Reading: Romans 15:22-33, Isaiah 52:14-15, Hebrews 2:2-4
I like to know what’s coming—what could happen and what my options are. I think constantly about what works and what doesn’t. In short, plans are my jam.
In my final year of seminary, a job opportunity arose. It was one of those really great, safe jobs that worked in all the practical ways. I would have a plan—in case, you know, God didn’t come through. I walked through the interview process until the final meeting, when we were to discuss terms for my employment. That morning I confessed to God that I was more concerned about my five-year plan than His plans for me. Then I did what I knew I had to do: I walked into that last interview and said, “This is just not where I need to be.”
At first, I felt amazing, like that scene in The Devil Wears Prada where Anne Hathaway throws her cell phone into the fountain. Life felt extraordinary, like I was jumping off of the proverbial cliff of my ordinary, planned-out life into the unknown. Later, as I sat alone, it hit me: I had no backup plan and only a few months until graduation. Panic set in, and I did what most of us do in crisis. I told absolutely no one that I was struggling.
One Sunday, my friend Laura cornered me at church. She barely had to acknowledge the look on my face before I spilled my doubts and fears of being a failure and a fool. I felt shame. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even know how I was going to buy groceries that week.
Laura didn’t miss a beat. She saw past the facade and grabbed my arm, looked me in the eye and said, “I don’t have an answer for you. But I can tell you that God is with you. Even when you can’t believe that, I’ll believe it for you.” Laura reminded me of the blessing that is mine as a follower of Jesus—a peace greater than my plans.
Paul’s life was filled with adventure and excitement (think: shipwrecks and jail time) but he, too, was created for community. In Romans 15:23-24, he writes, “I have strongly desired for many years to come to you whenever I travel to Spain. For I hope to see you when I pass through and to be assisted by you for my journey there, once I have first enjoyed your company for a while.” In these moments we catch glimpses of Paul’s ordinary life, even in the midst of extraordinary journeys.
I imagine he felt lonely at times. I wonder if part of him didn’t want to admit his own struggles.
In a moment of need, I didn’t even have the words to ask my friend to pray for me. But Paul’s letter reminds me that gospel community is the life we’re called to. Paul knew firsthand that when we experience fellowship within the body of Christ, we are experiencing the very kingdom of God. “I know that when I come to you,” he said to his fellow believers in Rome, “I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ” (Romans 15:29). Then he asked for their prayers.
May we be a people who confess aloud how much we need Jesus, and push one another back into His presence. We don’t simply write postcards from a distance and wish one another luck or prosperity. No, we have the honor of inviting each other to encounter the living God, the giver of salvation and peace.
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.