It was always a dare at school to see who could shock our teachers next. The teachers were good though… it took a lot to catch them by surprise. Nevertheless we pursued our goal vigorously.

In my Art class, we were to learn how to sculpture in clay, create a mold and then pour the final piece in plaster. So in my ‘shock-and-awe’ attempt to be naughty, I created a ‘fallen woman’.  She was naked and delicately resting on a rock – like you would see a mermaid depicted.

But instead of the intended shock, my elderly Art teacher was really impressed. She gave me an ‘A’! And also entered it into a local Art competition.

Then came the day I got to take it home to my mum and dad.

I recall the reaction of them both as I presented my ‘artwork’.

They too, were delighted. Right at that moment, I had a sense of their joy as they proudly gazed upon my work. Even today, that statue has pride of place in their home – just like Darryl Kerrigan (Michael Caton) in the movie, “The Castle”, the statue went “straight to the pool room”.

I must admit, whenever I visit mum and dad and see that statue, I am delighted in what I created and the joy it brought to so many…but more so the benefit it brought to me.

This led me to thinking about a well known phrase that many Christians quote during times of grief:

Do not grieve, the joy of the LORD is your strength.
Nehemiah 8:10

I always thought that when we were grieving that somehow we would receive this “joy of the Lord” and we would feel better…. happy and joyful, and promptly wondered why that wasn’t the case at all.

But when I reflect on my Art teacher and how she beamed when she announced my ‘A’ and that I was being entered into a competition… she was over the moon and it was her  joy. She didn’t give me her joy. It was just that…her joy. But what it did do, was to built up my confidence and self-esteem amongst those around me.

And it was the ‘joy of my mum and dad’ that created in me a strength knowing that no matter what I did as a kid, my mum and dad really did love me and delighted in me! That statue, in pride of place, reaffirms that in me, each time I see it.

I too had a great sense of joy in that which I had created.

And so it is with God. Just like that statue was my creation, you are His Creation.

It is the  Joy of the Lord.. in me! Yes, His Joy in me… and in you!

He is delighted in you.

He loves you.

You can’t earn it. You can’t buy it. You can’t even ask for it.

You are already His delight!

Even if you are grieving or happy. Even if you have gone off the rails, or not. Even if you feel you have failed in some way, or are a success. No matter where you find yourself…

He created you… and it is you, who is, His Joy.

Take a moment to truly grasp this amazing fact… there is indeed great strength, confidence, self-esteem and yes, even joy, that comes from knowing God really does love you… no matter what… you are His creation.

You are, His Joy!  And the joy of the Lord, is your strength.