I know it’s strange and some people will think I have lost my mind and should not be sharing private information, but I feel it necessary.
First, I want to make it clear that my coming out is not to make a statement, make people follow my lead, or make an example of myself. It may not work for you but it does for me. So if you don’t agree with my position that’s OK. Just take the grocery store approach and take off the shelf what you can use and leave the rest of it behind … without criticizing what you don’t need.
So what am I “coming out” about?
It goes back to when I was 21. I was trying to kill my depression, joblessness and devastation over the loss of a girlfriend with a bottle. When it didn’t work and since I had concluded I was without a future, I decided to end my life. A pistol, hangover and hopelessness became a toxic combination that culminated in a steel barrel kissing the right side of my temple. Thankfully, my roommate was given the rest of the day off “with pay” and my destiny was given a second chance.
A short while later I was invited to a city-wide event that was being held in order to introduce people to how they could begin a relationship with Christ. That night I became a believer and my life took a turn that is still determining the path and decisions I make today.
I became so hungry to understand who Christ was and how He could impact every area of my existence that I began reading the Bible with every spare moment. I didn’t understand much but it really didn’t matter because in some unexplainable way, every time I read it, I could feel God’s presence.
I didn’t have much of a prayer life and wasn’t really sure how to talk to God but I figured I would just shoot straight, be authentic and hope He heard me and wasn’t offended or bored with my requests. One day I read this verse in Matthew 6:6:
“But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father which is in secret: and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly.”
I had a lot of zeal in those days but very little knowledge. I took everything so literal that I thought my obligation was to “actually” get in my closet. My mom had this one special closet where she had put some old clothes in garbage bags that she intended to take to Goodwill. So I hopped in! It was really comfortable and I liked the idea of seclusion and quietness. Discovering I could better stay focused and on point, before long I wasn’t only praying in there but it also became the place I read the Bible.
I had never heard of “journaling” but so many things were coming to life off the Bible pages that I decided to start writing the specific things that stood out on the walls inside. I also began chronicling specific requests I was asking God to grant. Sometimes when I was discouraged I would re-read things I had written and sometimes I did it to recall prayers God had answered. Strength was gained as I saw in print that God “really” did listen to me.
When I finally realized that God didn’t require me to literally get in a closet but was encouraging me to humbly seek Him in privacy – it was too late. I already had a pattern that worked for me.
As the National Day Of Prayer draws near, I can’t help but wish this nation would spend a little less time on smart phones and tablets and with work and plain old busyness and a little more time in some secluded place to seek the face of God. As for me, I can honestly say I have learned more about God and sensed His presence in greater ways in that closet than I have in any church or other place.
Second Chronicles 7:14 gives a promise to any nation willing to obey. The guarantee?
“If my people which are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face then will I hear from heaven and heal their land.”
We need healing in so many aspects.
I still get in my closet and yes, I still keep a sharpie nearby. Furthermore, my parents still own the same house and the walls of my first secret hiding place have never been repainted.
Jay Lowder is founder of Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries and the nationally acclaimed school assembly, “Crossroads.” He is also author of “Midnight in Aisle 7.” Follow him on Twitter at @jaylowder or @jlhministries.
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