December 2009 - Vol. 35

Man facing his greatest fear

acrylic and emulsion, 102cm by 76cm

By Jamie Treadwell

Our deepest fear …

- is not that we are inadequate
- our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure
- it is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

- we ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous
   —actually, who are you not to be?

- you are a child of God
- your playing small does not serve the world
- there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people around you won’t feel insecure
- we were born to make manifest the glory of God within us

- its not just in some of us, its in everyone
- and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same …
 (we give other people permission to do the same as we are liberated from our own fear our presence automatically liberates others)

 - Nelson Mandela
Reflections by the artist
These words from Nelson Mandela struck a cord with me. In this painting I try to express something of this journey to discover who we are in the presence of the Almighty God. Fear is a big part of that journey. Mandela’s words point out that the fear is not merely of what’s "out there," but more significantly, what’s "in here" - in my own understanding of myself.

What can free us from fear? Over and over again in the Bible we read the words "do not fear." That’s easier said than done. What’s the source of true courage? And what about Paul’s statement in his letter to the Philippians that he has learned the secret of being content in all circumstances? Paul writes these words in very difficult circumstances – he’s in prison, his ministry is being attacked, his friends have abandoned him – yet he writes that what has happened to him has really served to advance the Gospel. He knows peace and contentment. He knows that even in such circumstances the glory of God is being manifest through him. How can he stand so confidently in the face of such overwhelming ‘bad luck’?

This painting is a metaphor for our relationship with the awesome God. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). In this fear we find true humility: Who am I to stand before the Lord of all creation? Indeed I stand in true fear as I contemplate God as Creator. I am nothing – or so it seems. Yet as I stand before his awesome presence I notice that I belong there, I am accepted, I am loved. I also am aware that I am not alone. I stand on the rock that is Jesus. I stand filled with the Holy Spirit, in profound union with this God that so overwhelms me. The fearful waves and breakers represent all that God is and has made. These waves and breakers are terrifying, yet I am not terrified. They are actually incredibly beautiful. In the presence of the awesome God I receive strength, I discover who I really am and could be, and in that I discover the peace that transcends all understanding. I welcome his Presence to crash over me, fill me, and empower me with his love and grace.

The inspiration for the painting came in part out of my own very practical experience of being overwhelmed by both opportunities and challenges. There’s just too much going on, too many things I’d love to be doing, too many demands on my time, too many challenges that I just can’t address on my own. So this painting is also a prayer. 

The words of Psalm 42:5,7 capture the essence of this prayer.

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
For I will yet praise him,
My Saviour  and my God.

Deep calls to deep
In the roar of your waterfalls
All your waves and breakers
Have swept over me

May we stand each day in the awareness of God’s glory in us seeking expression.  We are children of God, and our playing small does not serve the world nor honor our Creator. Let his glory shine.
(c) copyright 2007  The Sword of the Spirit