Oh My Soul

“Oh my soul, you are not alone. There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know.”

Casting Crowns, Oh My Soul

The first time I heard those words from the song Oh My Soul by Casting Crowns, I cried. I couldn’t help it. The words just hit me. I had never considered fear, my fear, of having to face the God I know. That is a powerful imagery. In my mind’s eye, I can see this tiny figure of fear peering up at the awesome, greatness of God looming above. And fear has nowhere to go.

Now, why you may be asking, had I not thought of that before? Doesn’t everyone know that fear is not of God? That if God is for me then who can stand against me? Yes, yes, I do know all of that but that doesn’t mean fear doesn’t still exist. I wish it didn’t. But it does, and so I have fear.

I realize I have lived my life in fear. Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being a bad parent. Fear of being a bad wife. Fear of being alone. Fear of being unacceptable. Fear of rejection. Fear of being wrong. Fear of…well, you get the idea. Maybe you have had some of these same fears, too, but like me never truly faced them. Instead, I allowed these fears to linger in the deep recesses of my life, melding into the very essence of who I am.

Call it what you will, “cautious,” “reserved,” “careful,” it’s all still fear. So when I heard those words, “there’s a place where fear has to face the God you know,” needless to say I was overcome. Because fear has had such a hold over me, I have been enslaved to it and therefore, haven’t known how to be apart from it. I have always acted out of fear. I have made decisions out of fear. I have relied on fear. Fear has been a constant.

Fear is an insidious, corrosive toxin. It permeates through your life unbeknownst to you, oppressing you, and eating away at your very soul.

1 John 4:18  says “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love,” (NASB).

There is no fear in love.” Great! So what’s the definition of love? Patience and kindness. It’s not jealous, boastful or proud. It’s not self-seeking, or easily angered. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs. Love doesn’t delight in evil but it does take pleasure in the truth. It’s always protective, trusting, and hopeful. Love perseveres and never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). And no mention of fear. Nope, this is the love of God.

And since God is love – perfect love – then He’s the one that “casts out fear because fear involves punishment.” That’s an interesting statement. God casts out fear. To cast literally means to forcefully throw something away. So God is forcefully throwing fear out. That’s gratifying. But then the other half of that statement says fear involves punishment. Have you ever thought of fear involving punishment before? No really, have you? Honestly, I hadn’t. I just accepted having fear as a shortcoming but never considered it involving punishment.

Dictionary.com defines punishment as “a penalty inflicted for an offense, fault, etc.” Hmm… Fear inflicts penalties. Fear finds fault. Fear is oppressive. Fear shames. Fear is debilitating. Fear is cruel. But God is never those things. Full of love, He extends us grace and throws out our faults and shortcomings through His Son, Jesus Christ. He doesn’t punish us because He love us with perfect love, which goes right back to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

Now this next part made me stop and think hard. “[The] one who fears is not perfected in love.” I really had to consider that closely. If God is perfect in love and He casts out fear, then we have no fear, or rather fear doesn’t have us, and thus we are perfected in His love. Right? But on the other hand, if we have fear, or it has us, then we are suffering undue punishment which is not from God, which means we aren’t perfected in His love. Huh. Well that sounds harsh. I certainly don’t want to be the one not perfected in God’s love, but there it is. Doesn’t quite seem fair, does it?

Actually it’s not about being fair per se. And it’s not about shaming or rejecting anyone either. It’s just a statement of truth. God’s truth. Being fearful and being in God’s perfect love at the same time is spiritually impossible. The two don’t mix. Like oil and water. So the one who fears cannot be in God’s perfect love. That’s because fear is all-consuming, and so if we have given over to fear, then how can we have any room for God’s love? By the way, God’s love is all-consuming. So we are either consumed by fear or we are consumed by God’s love. We have a choice.

So what to do… Well, for starters, I can call out my fears before God. Every. One. Calling them out takes away their power. Then I have to lean into God, really lean into Him and trust Him. I haven’t truly trusted Him as much as I thought. I see that now. I also need God to put those fears in proper perspective and expose them for the lies they are, and then I need to rely on the truth of God’s promises. I need to pray His promises, because His Word never comes back void. And I need to see myself the way God sees me. Worthy.

Maybe you’re in the same place; living in fear; consumed by fear. Maybe, like me, you haven’t realized how immersed you’ve been in fear. Maybe you need to have God’s perfect love cast out your fears. And you need Him to show you that you are worthy. I pray you will take that first step with me and call out your fears before God. Because when you do, then fear will have to face the God you know.

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. – Psalms 55:22

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7

If you want to know more about freedom from fear, I suggest Danielle Strickland’s book The Ultimate Exodus. (I receive no compensation for this recommendation).

Reboot

We might impress people with our strengths, but we connect with people through our weaknesses.

Craig Groeschel, Pastor of Life.Church

You may have noticed that my site looks a little different. The colors and layout are the pretty much the same, but the pictures across the top are different. The opening quote is more prominent. I also have a Resources option in the menu. More importantly though, the name of my site has changed. It’s no longer Cafe Society: Love You, Do You, Be You.

After the recent breakup my marriage and all the life changes I have experienced since, I realized I couldn’t continue writing the way I had. You see, while my previous blog posts had been intended to be encouraging and inspirational, they weren’t exactly hitting the mark authentically. At least not from my standpoint. In other words, I wasn’t truly expressing myself, showing me, being me completely in those posts. The posts may have sounded good and so forth but I wasn’t letting my vulnerable side show.

Those who know me well, know I don’t readily show my vulnerable side to just anyone. No, I reserve ‘tipping my hand’ only those I know intimately and trust, which typically means my family and close friends. That’s because I feel safe in sharing me with them; because they won’t exploit my vulnerabilities. However putting myself out there for others to see, is actually quite challenging and difficult for me. It makes me uncomfortable. It makes me feel exposed. It makes me feel open to ridicule or judgment. Plus it seems inappropriate to put one’s self out there because it gives the impression of pandering for attention like those on reality T.V. shows. Meh.

So then why, you may be asking, did I ever start a blog in the first place? Good question. There’s no straight-forward answer really but I’ll try to explain.

Every year, I attend the Global Leadership Summit. It’s an annual event hosted by Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. They broadcast the summit worldwide and across the country. Their intent is to bring people together from every kind of background, experience, and community to hear from leaders all over the world, to learn from them, to be encouraged, inspired and empowered by them. More importantly, though, to see how God can work through ordinary people to make extraordinary differences right where they are. The Global Leadership Summit’s mantra has been “everyone has influence.” It is, in a word, phenomenal. I’ve attended this event for the last 10 years and each time I have come away truly refreshed – encouraged, inspired and empowered.

So two years ago, was no different. Except for some reason this time I came away with this overwhelming urge, conviction if you will, to start a blog. I had no idea what I should write about except that I wanted to it be a blog of encouragement. To inspire. To connect and let others know they weren’t alone. So I eagerly set up my blog. I thought I came up with a clever name too, Cafe Society, with the angle that people in general put up a facade of who they but actually are someone very different underneath. Not entirely untrue or out of line except that it was me who had put up the facade. Instead of writing from deep personal experiences, I was writing about surface things. I didn’t want anyone to see the real me, the real stuff. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking I’m not that important for anyone to care why I’m sharing my personal life experiences. What did I truly have that made any difference?

And that’s where I went wrong from the start. It was about “I”. Me. I went off headlong thinking I was going to write about happy-happy-joy-joy things and everyone would just be wowed. Psh. What utter hooey. I had completely missed the point of why I started the blog in the first place. Remember when I said I had an overwhelming desire to start this blog? That’s because I believed it was God inspiring me to write. But I didn’t put the focus or intent on Him; I put it on me.

And now with all that’s happened in recent months off my life, I see that I need to start over. I need to reboot my blog in the same way I am rebooting my life. I need to rethink and rewrite my experiences. Because it was God who got me through the valley of the shadow of death. Not me. Not of my own volition. God.

So that end, I’ve decided to change my blog. It’s no longer about the facade of a cafe society. It’s no longer about me putting up a front presuming to be encouraging. It’s about my soul’s journey, growth and recovery through my relationship with God; about God’s love breathing life. And while it still may be difficult to share my personal side, I am going to do my best to share God’s side. Then maybe someone else can relate. Then maybe someone else won’t feel hopeless or alone. Then maybe someone will see God, and know God. I sincerely hope so.

So this is my reboot. My do-over, my 2.0. This is my Soul Journal: Love Breathes Life. I hope you enjoy it.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:18-19