I recently sat in on a breakout session at a conference titled, “A Pastor Comes Out of the Closet.” Not just a gimmicky title meant to merely peak interest but, instead, it was the true story shared by a pastor of coming to terms with his sexuality. He spoke of how he’d expected he’d be dead by 40, so certain he was that he wouldn’t live long enough to reach the breaking point with his secret. As his life began to feel out of control, he found himself in the emergency room. What he realized was that this had not been some kind of premonition. Rather, it had become his prayer.
Some years ago, I found myself laying on a pre-op table, waiting to be wheeled into the operating room. During a final consult, the surgeon, a no-bones-about-it personality, pointed out my hands, clenched into fists, thumbs tucked in to provide me with what felt like an extra measure of protection. This was fear. He encouraged me to relax. There really was not all that much to be scared about except that thing called uncertainty. I unclenched my fists and took a few deep breaths. And it really was ok.
Both these stories remind me of the significance of posturing. What may seem like insignificant viewpoints and quietly held beliefs can hold so much more power than we willingly acknowledge. They can become, in a sense, an order of service for our days, unintentional poses whereby we open ourselves up to more than we bargained. We may unwilling be bending towards or away. Regardless, we are turning in a direction. We are praying with our thoughts, our words, our opinions, offering for ourselves and others something which we believe to be true.
So true had become this young pastor’s expectation that his life was nearly over that his own body was beginning to suffer, telltale signs that led him to a turning point. Instead of internalizing that prayer, he began to pray another one . . . one which had him living again and one that kept him around to share his story and bring life to others.
What are you praying for that you might not realize? What beliefs, thoughts, expectations are you holding that have become your life’s prayer? Does this posture give life and hope? Or is it slowly eating at your soul?
For as he thinks within himself, so he is. Proverbs 23:7 (NASB)