God is Not in the Fire
by Lori Heine

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

(1 Kings 19:11-13 NIV)

We in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community nationwide have made tremendous gains.  But as we make them – perhaps even because of them – a fire rages around us.  Like the prophet Elijah, we quake before a great and powerful wind, an earthquake and that fire.  We are told that God is in these terrors, and that we are to blame for them.  We stand at the mouth of the closet, and we quake.

There is, in these forces, something primal.  We are told that nature itself has been outraged.  Those who war against our gains want to force us back into the closet.  Back into the cave in which they would have all of humanity live until the end of days.

New prophets have arisen to proclaim that God loves us, too.  That we are welcome among God’s people.  But many of the leaders of the people still rage against us.  They say that we are disgusting to God, and that we should stay silent and go away.  They claim that by silencing us and driving us away, they are speaking for God.

But is that how God speaks? Does “He” rage and threaten in gale-force blasts of wind, or vengeful earthquakes, or devouring fire? What does God tell “His” true prophets, in the face of earthly leaders’ decrees? What if God is speaking to us not in storm winds, earthquake or fire, but in a gentle whisper? A whisper that the leaders of this world don’t want to hear?

The religious leaders arrayed against us are not gentle whisperers.  They’re shouters.  They claim to speak for God, but they do not speak like God.  Of those who claim to follow Him, Jesus said that we would “know them by their fruits.”  That His true followers would produce good fruit, and that the fruit of false disciples would be hard and bitter.

What sort of fruit do those who would drive us away from God produce? What sort of Christians would rather alienate others from God than draw them closer? Unless, of course, we see love itself as sinful, and live as hollow shells of human beings.  How can they be taken seriously as representatives of the God Who is Love when they claim that our love itself is what offends God?

Everything about how we have been pushed away from God bespeaks of anger, violence and hardness of heart.  It shouts.  But everything about how God draws us to “Him” is gentle, quiet and kind. 

LGBT Christians have a difficult and challenging ministry, but a very special one.  Ours is the ministry of the still, small voice.  A new shouting campaign is now being waged by those who would drive us away from God.  We’ve seen it in the Duck Dynasty media attention-grab, in the grandstanding of politicians pushing new “religious freedom” laws to justify discrimination against us, in the religious right’s now-hysterical insistence that Christians must be anti-gay and that gays cannot be Christians.  We were warned of this development in Revelation 12:12, when we were told that the devil “is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”           

Evil is always at its most dangerous when it is threatened.  When it has ceased to dominate, and knows that it has but a short time to continue.  This is what we must remember as we brace ourselves against the storm, the earthquake and the fire.  All that remains, at the end, is the still, small voice – the quiet whisper.  The gentleness, patience and long-suffering of God is what will prevail, and if we abide with God in faith, we will prevail with “Him.”

 

© 2014 Lori Heine


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