…and how the song changed my heart….
A few years ago now, I quite accidentally discovered this song, and its writer/singer Ray Boltz, while looking for Don Francisco songs. I can’t listen to this song without weeping; this is true for only one other song, Into the West, performed by Annie Lennox. The anointing on the song (by ‘anointing’, I mean the evident seal of God’s approval; the added je ne sais quoi that He adds to things that He’s got His Hand in) – anyway the anointing is so strong that I just lose it every time. I’ll let you listen to the song (and the video is very good too) and then I’ll tell you a bit of a story.
You see, apart from its emotional effect on me, this song was also pivotal in my walk with God in another way.
This was the song that Holy Spirit used to bring me to my present place as an open affirmer of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning) people .
I’d never heard of Ray Boltz before. But I was really impressed, as I’ve hinted, by the anointing on this song, and I wanted to learn more about him. Long story short, I discovered that Ray is gay.
At the time (this was about mid-2009) I was in my fifteen-year ‘wilderness period‘, and would be for another six years or so (it lasted from 1999-2014). Although God had already retrained much of my thinking with regard to theology, doctrine and practical faith, still the dislike (to put it mildly) of all things LGBTQ was a stronghold in my life. I am embarrassed to admit that I thought that gay people were way off-beam and deserved everything coming to them, as I saw it then. I cringe to write that, but that’s the honest truth. And I was wrong.
I had to wrestle with God on this. “If he’s gay [and therefore ‘wrong’]”, I put to God, “then why and how can you put such obvious anointing on his music?”
(Only recently, though, has my thinking changed on the issue of God’s anointing of ‘obviously wrong’ people – read about that here – but back then, this was a major issue for me)
God then led me on a journey of reading, research, study, prayer and contemplation wherein He eventually brought me round to His Heart on the issues surrounding LGBTQ people. I found that God loves them, God reaches out to the outcasts of society, He upholds the minorities and He lifts up the downtrodden. In each age, there are such people, and in our age one such ‘group’ is the LGBTQ ‘community’. He changed my heart towards these people by showing me His Heart; the natural thing for me to do was to follow His leading. I am too honest a man to deny the truths He gave me; too honest to ignore His prompting. I knew this was the way he wanted me to go. It fits right in with His love, His compassion, His gentleness and His forbearance. And, as you know from the subtitle of my blog, I always love to “do what I see the Father doing”.
And in the years since, I have found out that some of my old friends from Yorkshire (with whom I am still in touch) have also had to wrestle with these beliefs, especially one whose daughter has ‘come out’ as a Lesbian. I’m not on my own; God is challenging, and changing, the ‘firmly held’ beliefs of those who have ears to hear – many believers in this time are also coming round to this point of view.
This line of thinking also got me pondering very deeply on things like the nature of sin, the deadness of legalism and religion, and on many more things that now form a part of the way my theological thoughts now sit, and which you can see in my blog posts. And all because of that song, and Ray Boltz, the gay man who wrote it.
I now have several gay friends, some in real-life, and some who are ‘Internet friends’. And I have learned that they are good people – if you’d told the old ‘me’, ten years ago, that this would be my attitude, I would never have believed it could be possible. But thanks to God’s grace, and Ray Boltz’s song, my heart has been changed for good.
Thank You, Jesus!