Fear Deconstructed

Jan Antonsson

The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway

November 4, 2018

Neosho, MO

“There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life, fear of death, fear of judgment, is one not yet fully formed in love”  (I John 4:18, The Message). 

I enjoy watching cooking shows, and often a contestant will use ingredients found in one dish to make a different one with the same ingredients, such as an entree consisting of  sautéed hamburger meat, cheese, onion, tomato, and lettuce, which he then may refer to as a “deconstructed cheeseburger.”  The word simply means, something reduced to its basic components, which may look different from what we’re used to seeing, but it is the same thing basically.

Fear is probably just like that, a feeling of dread composed of different stressors, different ones for each of us.  All of us are afraid of something.  Early on, my fears were legion, including but not limited to God, the devil, death and dying, hell fire and brimstone, physical pain, failure in school, failure as a mother, and most embarrassing for me, fear of snakes, all kinds, any kind, venomous or allegedly harmless, though how any snake could be considered harmless I have no idea when it would probably cause me to have a stroke if I encountered it up close and personal.

The fear of death and dying however, is probably endemic to the human psyche, and partly because as the Apostle John rightly observed, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (I John 4:18, ESV).  In my family, we were afraid of death, primarily because we were fed non-stop hell fire and damnation by our preachers, Sunday School teachers, and other well meaning family members trying to be sure we stayed on the “straight and narrow path.”

For example, if you committed a sin and then died before asking for forgiveness, the fear was that you’d just punched your ticket to hell, and folks, that is NOT a comfortable place to live, depending on how picky you’d care to be about what is and what is not a sin.  That varies from church to church, making it impossible to find a firm piece of ground to stand on.    We used to sing a hymn which declared, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;  I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.  On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.”  If you don’t know God loves you, and think you can never know if you’ll get to heaven or not until you get there, you are always standing on sinking sand, always.

The thought comes from Jesus’ teaching: “Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it”  (Matthew 7:24-27, NASB).

My dear friend John Gavazzoni asked in an e-mail, “Jani, Have you considered a follow-up article addressing how there is no real contradiction between God relating to us in love/as the Love He is, and that there is a place for “fear,” when one finds him/her self fallen into the hands of the living God? There is some rich truth to be found in seeing how God’s acts of love can call for “fear” as we contemplate how completely committed He is to our transformation, and what severity of dealings that might involve.” 

“You’ll note, I’ve put “fear” in parenthesis because, in my understanding, its use in scripture includes some breadth, and it’s generally affirmed by the best exegetes that the essential meaning, in respect to it being a proper attitude by the believer, has to do with “reverential awe.”….The sense I get of its use when it is included in how we ought to relate to the Lord, that the reverential awe connotes the imperative of not treating lightly, but with the utmost seriousness, that God mixes kindness and severity in His dealings with His children: “knowing therefore, the goodness and severity of God, we persuade men.”   End Quote.

Having endured the various “cactus patches” God has dragged me through, I have finally come to this same realization, which Job’s words convey:  “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him”  (Job 13:15, KJV).   I’ve come to see that through all the losses, the failures, the stumbling and falling, He has brought to me, He has always been there to hold my hand as I walk through it as He reveals His love in it.

In response to the aforementioned blog about love and fear, another dear friend, Jonathan Mitchell sent me a portion of his study on Hebrews 10:31:

“[It is] fearful (a fear-inspiring [experience]) to suddenly fall-in,  into hands of a continuously living God!

“Suddenly falling-in is a scary, fear-inspiring experience.  When someone falls through a roof, through the ice on a lake, or into a pit, it will always be accompanied by fear, even from its mere suddenness.  Falling into God’s hands is fearful because we do not know what this experience will entail.  Chronic illness suddenly appearing; the sudden loss of our means of income; the end of a close relationship; the outbreak of war; the devastation of an earthquake, a tsunami, a flood, a tornado, a volcanic eruption,  all these are fearful experiences.  But in all these we should realize that we have fallen into His hands.  And we should realize that this is just our initial emotion.  What accompanies our landing in His hands in a new experience is the presence of His love within this new context.  And His love will cast out all of our fear,  because we can trust the One who made the Promises: He is Faithful, Trustworthy and Loyal… This life can be full of fears and surprises, but when it all falls apart, “underneath are the everlasting arms; God is our refuge” (Deuteronomy 33:27; KJV).  End quote.

Jonathan has accurately and compassionately described the experience Lenny and I had when God cut off our income in 1996, so that we lost everything in California.  Lenny had received the “call” to come to Neosho to be a witness of God’s light, power, and glory to a group of Baptist men here, and there was no way we could have done that with the enormous house payment we had.  We were successful Real Estate brokers, and at the time had a piece of raw land in escrow, the commission on which would have paid the debt and saved our house.  Try as we might, we could not get agreement between buyer and seller.  They were not arguing over the price, but rather over ingress and egress to the property (a 25 foot strip of land between the property and the road). The seller wouldn’t sign off on the agreement unless the buyer allowed him to retain the water rights to the property.  The buyer refused, and without that signature, the title company would not insure title.  We were stuck.

Time ticked on; the notice of default on the house was filed in February, 1996, meaning by California law, we could no longer make up the back payments but had to pay the entire amount owed on the note.  The day after that notice was filed, the buyer called me and said he would close the escrow without the seller signing off on the ingress and egress agreement, without title insurance. Since it was an all cash transaction, it was legal to do that.  The buyer wanted the property and was tired of waiting.  The money had been in escrow for months at this point, and once the buyer signed that agreement, the escrow closed, but by that time, it was too late to make up the back payments.  So, we lost our beautiful house and our credit.

Lenny’s brother offered his guest house to us, which was a real refuge for us from July 4, 1997, until May 31, of 1998, when we packed up everything we owned in our Cadillac and drove to Neosho.  We had enough money to buy a 5th wheel, which we parked by the barn on the family farm.

Being retired meant I could finally learn how to post The Glory Road website I had built, but hadn’t quite figured out how to get it on the Internet.  Had we both not known that God was at work, causing all the stress of the insolvable escrow, and the grief of losing our house and credit, it would have been a tragedy.  As it was, we saw from the beginning, Lenny before I did, of course, that Father God was not out to kill us, but had another path for us to walk.

We lived in that 5th wheel for 20 years, as happy together as we had been in our house in Carlisle Canyon.  Only God can work a miracle like that.  And He did.

Over time, His perfect love has loved me past most of my fears, except one:  snakes.  He’s not worried about that, and I’m not either.  There’s nothing I can do about anything to change or improve myself.  That is the job of Christ living in me, my hope of glory, your hope of glory, everyone’s hope of glory (See Colossians 1:27).  What I came to a long time ago was that when God looks at me, He doesn’t see me with all my failures.  He sees Christ in me.  It is His job to bring each of us from where we are to where He wants us to be. It is an on-going, continuous process: And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit”  (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV).

Father, we thank You for giving us a front row seat to watch You work in our lives, and when the road gets rough and bumpy, we thank You for keeping us buckled in by Your love.  You do all things well.  We ask that You grant us the privilege of sharing Your love, Your mercy, Your grace, and Your unconditional love with all those You put in our path, and we will praise You forever.  “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” Amen. Jan Antonsson

Jan Austin Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850

All our writings from 1997-2010 are on

The Glory Road

Our writings from 2010 until the present are on this blog.

We always enjoy hearing from you!

Jantonsson@aol.com

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