The painting projects above were painted by S.R. Williams from 2010-2014 using patterns created by artist Mary Jo Tuttle. Photo copyright 2017 by S.R. Williams.
I had ordered some painting instruction books from artist Mary Jo Tuttle several years ago, and she was kind enough to include an autograph in each book along with a personal note. One note that she wrote really jumped out at me. It said, “May you always paint the colors of joy.” Wow!
Whenever God wants to speak to me about something, He will often repeat a theme or topic in my everyday life, and I will find myself going back to it in my thoughts and digging deeper to uncover all the layers of meaning in whatever it is I am being shown or taught.
In this case, the theme “colors of joy” kept being repeated. I began to wonder what color joy would be if it could be captured by a paint brush. Or what joy would look like if we could visually see it flowing out of a person’s heart… or what a life would look like if it were “painted” with joy.
Joy has many facets — and therefore should be represented by many colors. A display of joy is evident by the immediate change it creates in a person’s heart. It is like a super power. It can blast through the darkness that surrounds a time of sorrow. It can penetrate even the most bitter of souls. It can create a bridge upon which to cross over the muck and mire of deepest despair.
“… the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold.” (Nehemiah 8:10 Amplified)
In the deeper search to understand joy, I have learned its secret. Joy can only be found in the Lord Jesus. Once you find Him, you will always have and know joy. Jesus and joy are inseparable. Indeed, knowing Him makes it possible to experience joy even during an hour of greatest struggle. I am convinced that joy – in all of its many manifestations — flows from the very compassion that resides within the heart of God.
Like most people, I have known difficult times in life, and therefore have come to intimately know the characteristics of joy. Joy is faithful. It has never failed to come alongside just when I have needed a boost of strength or courage to continue through a difficult season of life. Joy restores purpose and renews hope. It is the greatest encourager. Joy is compassionate and merciful and is itself a refuge.
Because the Lord has placed His joy inside of me, I now understand more about His heart and the things that bring Him joy. I came to know that nails alone were not strong enough to hold Jesus on the cross – but joy was. We are the precious prize that “was set before Him,” and it created in Him such an all consuming joy that He was able to endure great suffering. Oh, to paint that color whatever it might be!
“He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross…”(Hebrews 12:2 Amplified)
That’s when I realized that life is like a canvas. If I could choose any colors of the rainbow to paint my world, I would choose the colors of joy. It is the best way I know how to allow the canvas of my life to be a reflection of the One who “counted it all joy” even while He was carrying my sins to the cross and dying in my place. It is that same joy that will accompany my life and eventually carry me home one day. Until then, I have a canvas to finish, and I know it will be beautiful when it is finally completed because it will be painted with all the colors of joy.