Panera Perfectly Planned

by Marissa Rubin

I shouldn’t be blogging. I should be sleeping since I am leaving for the Maroon Bells in 5 hours to backpack. My WordPress dashboard shows 44 drafted posts…yes, that is 44 blog entries that I began, but never finished. I was probably writing 95% these while falling asleep. Hopefully I’ll make it through this one. Apologize for grammar errors. Will make it more coherent later.

So, tonight’s topic is “Divine Appointments.” You’ve heard the phrase. I had one this afternoon.

I got off from work at 3:00 pm and headed over to the Apple store in the promenade. I suppose I was so anxious to purchase my iPod Touch that I wasn’t thinking straight. Left the keys in the ignition and locked the door. I do stuff like this ALL the time. Story of my life. I didn’t really fret, but I was in a time crunch and needed to meet up with some friends within a few hours to head up to the mountains. I called AAA (thank the Lord for this amazing service!) and went inside to carry on with my exhilarating purchase. While browsing, I saw a text from one of my hiking buddies saying she got called into work. We would have to leave later anyway. Relief!

$380.13 later (forgot there is sales tax in CO and should have ordered online!), I walked out to intimidating, dark grey clouds hovering overhead. It was beginning to rain. But behold, Panera was only a few stores away. Perfect. I ordered myself a late lunch of mac and cheese and green tea and proceeded to a table by the front window. I’ve sat at this exact table numerous times as my weekly Bible study meets at this exact Panera. It resides in a nice little in-cove that houses one other table. There was a lady sitting at the other. I smiled and sat down, facing the window to keep an eye out for the locksmith.

Not even after being seated for 30 seconds, the woman (going to guess late 30’s) asked me a question. Her first question…”Excuse me, can I ask you a question?” …in some sort of European accent. “Sure!” I responded eagerly. She asked, “If you had enough money for either situation, would you buy a house and settle down or would you continue with your education?” Of course, this is a loaded question that could have many variations of answers.

My response was jumbled. I told her that I really didn’t know. I told her that hypothetically speaking, at this point I would probably go to school. We chatted back and forth and she told me many of her current issues. She was struggling with direction in life. She told me of how she was originally from Romania and trying to figure out the American culture. She lived in San Francisco for a while working at a bank. She and her boyfriend broke up. She moved to Colorado Springs for a new guy. She showed me a picture of her rather good-looking significant other who happens to be a pilot. Some of her questions…”Should I continue to live with him?” “Should I become independent and rely on myself?” “I can’t trust men, but I hate to be alone.” “Should I buy my own condo and forget the men?” Her ramblings continued. Though kind and lending a listening ear, I sort of half-answered her questions. She could tell that I was at a loss.

She then asked me, “What do you do?”

I told her about my current schooling and job situation. I told her about my move to Colorado the previous year. I proceeded to tell her about my upcoming world missions tour. She was enthralled. She asked my how I did it. “How did you move out here alone?” You are very strong. “When I first moved to the states, I had fifteen hundred dollars in my pocket.” It was scary.

“Well, we have that in common,” I said. That is about the boat that I’m in. She was shocked…shocked at the fact that I was quitting my job and losing money in this missions process.

I told her I could never do it alone. I told her I wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for God.

“I’ve been believing in God more lately,” she said. “He is so strong. Sometimes I wonder, where are You?! But I still believe He is very strong. I believe in all that karma.”

I laughed to myself (about the karma comment). But then I had these thoughts…

This was a desperate soul. She asked a stranger for advice.

We talked some more. I told her more about my trip. She told me a bit about the poverty in Romania.

Then, after some more chatting, she began to worriedly tell me about her directional musings again. When there was finally a break in conversation, I asked if I could pray for her. She agreed.

“God, calm Susan’s spirit. Give her a peace. Show her who You are. Give her wisdom and answers about her relationships. Provide a job for her. Give her good friends in Colorado that will be there for her.” Some of the simple words I prayed to the Father.

When I finished, she told me that I should be a priest. I laughed, but then I felt bad because she was dead serious. She was so grateful.

Shortly after I prayed, the locksmith pulled up next to my jeep. I gave her my email and left her with her laptop where she had been vigorously searching for condos in the area.

Thanks, God. Thanks for allowing me to lock my keys in my car. Thanks for having the backpacking delayed. Thanks for the pouring down rain. Thanks for the chat with Susan. Thanks for using my current circumstances (little money, living on faith, and trying to love You) to impact others. Wow.

Thanks for the clear confirmation that what I’m doing is definitely what you want me to do.