Romans: Day 38

The Blessing of Christ

by

Today's Text: Romans 15:22-33, Isaiah 52:14-15, Hebrews 2:2-4

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.

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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. 

  • It seems like God brings some of these devotionals at just the most opportune time… Having recently graduated and just turned down a job opportunity, or “security”, I am stepping out into the unknown of no real “plans” at this point, but am at peace in that the Lord is calling me to do so. Thank you for this, Melissa. Very relatable!

  • Thank you for this timely sharing. I have recently moved to a new city and have kept jamming my life with plans because I’m so afraid of being alone. This reminded me that I am not alone and to trust God and find peace in Him

    • Sarah

      Same here, D! I start my new job today in a new city. May the living God go before you and establish the work of your hands!

  • “A peace greater than my plans.”

    Thank you for the wonderful reminder, and for putting it so simply and eloquently. Sometimes I feel as if grappling with responsibilities is choking me like the seed that grew on good ground but was choked by thorns. I’m a big planner and overthinker too, and sometimes when I don’t have it all figured out, I panic. With this reminder, I will make it a daily practice to meditate on the peace of the provision and salvation of God. It’s a wonder that never ceases to amaze.

  • A chapter I’ve always skipped over, that you’ve turned into something special! Thank you Melissa!!

  • Love you, Melissa, and so glad to be part of your journey. I’ve never stopped believing on your behalf, and will pray that the Lord will be very, very close to you in all your times of discernment. It’s a severe mercy to have to be dependent on the Lord for every next step…so gracious (and tough) that we can’t go off on our own. Grateful to get to have a front row seat for the journey.

  • I love that last paragraph…may we confess out loud how much we need Jesus and may we push each other back to him. Yes! What a needed reminder.

  • churchmouse

    We come to know that God is in control when we find ourselves in uncontrollable circumstances. So… He. Is. In. Control. So I don’t have to be. I can relax. Really. I can. Most of the time. Help me Lord.

  • churchmouse

    Gospel community for me is found around my kitchen table on Friday mornings and here each day with you all. The church (large)I attend on Sundays… not so much. Sunday morning is focused corporate worship and it is inspiring, uplifting, unifing and encouraging. I love it! But the dig deep and share from the soul – that’s where the peace is dredged. A small group of life savers. And for that I am forever grateful.

  • Been thinking about this more. My brother in law’s brother passed away this weekend, and I just feel so heartbroken for them. I don’t think they have a relationship with the Lord. What happens if my brother in law’s brother didn’t believe either? Is there any hope for him? I’ve started to pray that the family will find Him and feel His love and peace…I truly hope they do. Please pray for them with me, Chris is my brother in law, his brother’s name was Billy. I can’t imagine the pain and sadness that they are feeling right now, and I feel so sorry that they are feeling it.

  • Renae Joyce

    Yes yes, this devotional hits home! Thanks so much! So thankful for the fellowship of the family of God!

  • My husband and I are preparing to move from LA to Houston next week and this is my biggest prayer: community! Every time I start freaking out (because I, too, am a planner with lots of current unknowns), I think about how incredible it is that we can move to a new place and know that God has community waiting for us in His Church. Just trusting that God knows exactly where He wants us! And I agree with Mamajonk’s prayer, that I find women like each of you so share life with! Some of you may even be in Houston!

    • Lauren

      Hi from Houston! We are specifically in Spring. Praying your transition is smooth and I just know God will put the right people in place for you and your family! What part of Houston will you be moving to?

    • Dana Moore

      Not sure what part of Houston you’re headed too, but check out Antioch Church. They are amazing. Dear friends of mine serve there.

      • Dana Moore

        Oh sorry just saw you said Katy. Antioch Houston would probably be a bit far. I’ll be praying you find a home and community there.

  • It is so crazy how we always try to handle our struggles alone! Thank you for a great post and for reminding me, as a step out in faith to follow God’s calling to write, that he has surrounded me with love and support! It is so scary to not know what comes next, how the bills will get paid. But I am committed to trusting God today, instead trusting my own “sensible” plan (and failing, big time) as I have in the past. Prayers for you as God takes you on this journey! Thanks again for the post, God is definitely working through you!

  • I so relate to you Melissa and so needed to hear this today.

    There is a lot for me up ahead. God has informed me of this. I like to know everything…EVERYTHING…so I can make some sort of plan. I like to work out 100 different scenarios of what will go down, so I can make a plan to handle all of those scenarios. It. Is. Exhausting. Also, it’s not trusting God and trusting in myself to do it. God will eventually force me into a corner to where I have to ask for help. It’s hard, but once it’s done, relief sets in. There is some guilt about not being able to do it all myself, but I know that is from the enemy. God seeks for us to have community and reach out when we are in need of help. It’s a way for God to use others to show His love and compassion for us.
    Prayers needed today. I return to work after a week gone from cancer treatment. I didn’t realize until after the treatment how much it wipes out your body physically. I have a very busy, often fast paced job. Pray that I listen to my body when it needs to rest, not fear or having guilt asking for help. And to have peace about this season and not push myself to get stronger quickly.

  • Can you pray for me today? After two months of symptoms and two CT scans, doctors found inflammation in my left colon that needs further testing with a colonoscopy tomorrow. This has been an incredibly lonely journey as I’ve found that the human love in my life is conditional and I’ve been forced back in the arms of Jesus from which I had once again strayed. He has been the only one who knows the depth of my struggle and somehow He is still there. I am scared for tomorrow but am thankful for this situation to learn patience and truly understand what it means to have Him by my side.

    • Yetunde Odutolu

      Praying for you Johanna, for peace, comfort and healing tomorrow

    • Patrice Kelley

      Hi Foanna, I pray for healing and restoration. Know that your Lord God will never leave you, never forsake you. In Jesus name you are healed!! Do not fear for the Lord is with you. Do not be dismayed He will strengthen you and help you. He will uphold you with His righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10)May the Prince of peace give you peace that only He can give.

    • churchmouse

      Adding my prayers to the others. Lord, give Joanna peace, knowing that You are with her and will see her through. Give the doctors skill with the procedure and in making an accurate diagnosis. I pray for effective treatment if any is needed. But above all, I pray that Joanna knows today that You are at her side, loving on her and holding her. No better arms!

    • Pamela Jo

      Joanna, I pray that you would feel Jesus’ arms wrapped around you giving you comfort, strength and love. I pray for His healing power to flood your body. Be at peace knowing that he is in control. Keep us posted. xoxo

  • Tochi Heredia

    To say I relate to you, Melissa, is an understatement.

    I’ve always been a self-demanding and proud person. Many aspects of my life are under the rule of “if you want a job well done, you must do it yourself.” However, time and time again I’ve proved myself that I know nothing and I can’t even control my own life.
    When I read the Bible, I see myself reflected in the people of Israel and their self-inflicted pain whenever they followed their own wishes, instead of resting in God and letting Him guide them lovingly. And I also come face-to-face with Jesus, humble and subject to the Father’s will to the utmost.
    I’m too shortsighted (both metaphorically and literally) to command my own life.
    I’m so tired of sabotaging my own life. So I decided to completely surrender my plans to Him. Well, He is already Lord above all, but my heart needs to be reminded of that quite often.

    I’m praying today for help to welcome the interruptions, to be flexible and ready t set my life aside for the sake of my brothers and sisters in Christ and for those that haven’t yet heard His message.

  • Michelle Baier

    Right on point Holy Spirit with what I am going through in my life. Just last night I gave notice to my current job and am venturing out in my own! This devotional was perfect. Pray for me sisters as I begin my new journey. Have a blessed day! ❤️

  • “Will you be my prayer partner?” There’s power in the vulnerability of asking for prayer. I have been reflecting lately on my faith journey. Over years and years of living through various seasons I can see the progress in my prayers. At first prayers were all about me…Lord, help me. Lord, I need. Then prayers were requests for my immediate family, still self-centered…Lord, help my children. Lord, my husband needs. There was much growth in my faith journey when praying for others began. To focus prayers on others in my community whether from work or church was transformational. It felt good to help others; a sense of strength. But the ultimate feeling was when I began to ask others to pray for me. To ask for prayer requires a sense of letting go, to put it (the need) in the hands of others. It creates a bond between you and the partner; a feeling of surrender to the bond that ties us.

    • Lehua K.

      Thank you for sharing this. I needed to hear it and am still progressing on my prayer journey… I find it tough to ask others aside from my mom to pray for me. I have to remember that there’s no shame in asking for help.

  • Needing Christ definitely keeps me humbled and reminds me that there is a greater power watching over me and giving me the necessary tools to make it through life. It’s not easy and less when we don’t have a perfect outline of what we’re going to do in the coming years. Most people like organization and planning but sometimes, that’s just not the way God works. He can be very spontaneous and full of surprises. One thing we can always trust in is that He will always bless us with peace when we cry out “Help” or “I need you.” He will be there every step of the way, whether we have an organized thought-out plan or walking into the unknown. ❤️

  • Community with other Christians is something that I deeply long for. I have been a member of my particular church for 3 years now and despite many different attempts to reach out, I have yet to really connect with any of the women in the church (save for the good friend who drew me to this particular church in the first place). I’m a very outgoing individual and have more recently begun to wonder if community is even in God’s plan for me. Is there a reason for this lack of friendship? Am I neglecting the friend that I already have by longing for more Christian friends? Is God telling me that I must rely fully on him before I can experience the joy that community brings? Just wishing that I could connect with others from my church beyond Sunday morning. I too like to plan out everything, so relying on God’s timing in this has been difficult. I know he has a plan that is better than I can imagine, but currently I just feel lonely and let down.

    • Tochi Heredia

      Seanna, I’m right there with you. Although I have attended the same church for 10 years, lately I’ve been feeling extremely lonely and longing for true community.

      I want to share my own prayer with you: that God would open our eyes to see people we wouldn’t normally reach out to and that He helps us leave our comfort zones.

      I am a single, 22-year-old and I’ve started spending time with a mama of three toddlers! It’s an unlikely friendship, and it’s just been coming over to hang out once a week, but it has blessed me greatly.
      Praying that you get to find your people, too :)

    • Cynthia

      May I suggest looking for ways to serve in your community of believers? Showing others that you are in the church to serve alongside them will create community for you. We must be careful not to have a consumer mentality in the church. I have been in your shoes more often than I would have liked and have learned this the hard way. Praying you are blessed with real fellowship in your new community.

    • Diane S

      I can relate to your experience. I was a member of my church for about three years before I made any real connection with other women in the congregation, despite my outgoing nature. If you are being fed as well as serving & growing spiritually within this congregation, I encourage you to stick with it. God will full fill your need in His time (I know that’s the hard part). Continue to serve, attend Bible studies/small groups, or other events there and pray for a true friend within the congregation. For me, He answered just in time. I pray He will bring you into those friendships you are seeking soon.

  • Diane Huntsman

    Community.. the need is real.. try as I might after some serious church hurt, to just do life on my own with my little fam, it doesn’t cut the mustard.. I’m just now after an 8 year peace out church, coming back into community and learning to trust “church” folk again.. and the thing is, I may get hurt again, and I’ll surly hurt people myself, but hurts are no reason to run.. hurts are part of walking this fallen planet and experiencing grace and forgiveness.. giving grace and forgiveness.. building relationships take time and I’d love to fast forward the process to already being bffs and the knowing just how I feel by just looking at me.. but I can’t.. it takes time, effort, intention.. but I’m in it for the long haul because truthfully, life is just better when lived in community.. it just is.. because it was Gods idea and His mandate.. cheers to community my friends and all that goes with it… the good and the hard. xoxo

    • DebbieinAZ

      Amen

    • Mamajonk

      I have been doing the SRT studies since just after it began. I love the comments as much as I do the devotions and have had on several occasions, been blessed by the comments you have shared. I also love the feeling of connection and community that the sisters in Christ from all over the world have been through this study as well. I find myself praying for these women and finding a sweet joy knowing some day I’ll meet these women from around the world when we’re together seeing Jesus face to face. Then in God’s funny sense of humor, I see you comment on several of my friends Facebook pages and more recently on my (our) churches IG! Small world for sure! Trusting Jesus will use you mightily as you begin this journey in your church community. Blessings.

      • Diane Huntsman

        Aww such sweet words!!! Love it!! Thank you so very much!! I can’t believe how small the world really is!! I hope to meet you soon!! Love n hugs precious sister!! xoxo

  • Am I the only one that felt like the suggested Romans’ verses felt like that stopped short of what we should have been reading? Have a great day ladies.

    • Allison

      Never mind, I had misread them! Haha! Oops! Here’s to mistakes and taking in more Bible than I planned!

  • I love what your friend did for you in. This is the exact reason the power of
    community is so important!

    http://Www.in-due-time.com

  • I am in a season of learning a new job in my early 50s and feeling so inadequate, while living in a new city and trying to cultivate new relationships in a new church and neighborhood. The struggle is real! The juxtaposition of those feelings and the knowledge that God ordained this season is crazy to see. He is equipping me and will carry me through. I so relate to Melissa’s devotional. Plans are my jam for real. But I know His plans are best and I would never want to be anywhere except in the center of His will for me. Thank God for His Word and sisters in Christ who equip and encourage.

  • In May, after some very clear and loud signs from God about the direction He wanted me to go, I quit my secure, stable job of 7 years for a new opportunity. The end of the three month trial for the new opportunity is quickly approaching and it’s not been as smooth or as clear as I’d anticipated. I don’t doubt that my decision to change things was the right one, but I’ve been anxious about the path and, of course, the income. This was EXACTLY what I need this morning, so thank you, Melissa! God truly works in amazing, mysterious, glorious ways. xoxo

  • Karen From Virginia

    I’m not ashamed to say that my most often prayer throughout my Christian walk has been “I need you!” I’m desperate. I need you. It’s raw and real. It has helped me to be humble and open with my fears. I learned to confess and lean on Jesus and others. He’s always been faithful to bring peace and assurance that no one who trusts in the Lord shall be put to shame.

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