From Cheryl.

The light in the room where I do most of my work is horrible.  The glass the covers the bulb has a yellow tint.  The texture of the glass is bumpy, so the light is dim.  You can place a mega-watt bulb in the light, but it still comes up lacking.  I wonder if I look the same way.  Jesus had this to say about being a light.

4“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 )

He’s not Jesus, but Rob Bell also has some good things to say about being the light.

“Why blame the dark for being dark? It is far more helpful to ask why the light isn’t as bright as it could be.”

“If the gospel isn’t good news for everybody, then it isn’t good news for anybody. And this is because the most powerful things happen when the church surrenders its desire to convert people and convince them to join. It is when the church gives itself away in radical acts of service and compassion, expecting nothing in return, that the way of Jesus is most vividly put on display. To do this, the church must stop thinking about everybody primarily in categories of in or out, saved or not, believer or nonbeliever. Besides the fact that these terms are offensive to those who are the “un” and “non”, they work against Jesus’ teachings about how we are to treat each other. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor, and our neighbor can be anybody. We are all created in the image of God, and we are all sacred, valuable creations of God. Everybody matters. To treat people differently based on who believes what is to fail to respect the image of God in everyone. As the book of James says, “God shows no favoritism.” So we don’t either.”

And for the one that cut to the core:

“Because with every action, comment, conversation, we have the choice to invite Heaven or Hell to Earth.”

So in essence, I’m not the light, I am the bulb.  Jesus is the light and He needs to be visible to those I come into contact with.  That includes the lady who cut me off in traffic yesterday (my light was covered with a very black cloth).  How dim was my light when I was given an opportunity to give and I clutched my checkbook a little tighter?  Jesus shines no matter what – His light never changes, but what have I done to distort that light?  Did I invite Heaven or Hell to Earth?  I’ve cleaned my glass and I’m ready to let Christ shine through me this week – I hope you see Him.

My friend Cheryl asked me if I wanted to take a stained glass class with her this spring at our local community college.  Since I love all things arts and crafts, of course I said yes!  We both thought that it was going to be a pretty easy class.  The last one she had taken she just put these kits together, which already had the glass cut out and everything, so that’s what we were both expecting.  We got to class the first day, and opened our kits to start the class, and it included tools to cut our own glass.  We were both a little surprised, but ready to go and see where it would take us.

My favorite part of it all is picking out the glass.  There are so many different colors and patterns to choose from.  The possibilities are completely endless!  One thing that you have to do before you can pick the perfect piece of glass for the project is hold it up to the light so it can shine through.  I’m constantly amazed at how different a piece of glass can look sitting on a table as compared to holding it up to the light.  Here’s the thing, though, most of the time it looks a ton better than it does without the light shining through it.

Usually my first impressions of things and of people don’t change.  My attitude is a lot more judgmental than I would like to admit.  I’m also pretty judgmental with myself if that makes any sense to you.  I’m usually more than willing to give someone else another shot at something or extend grace to someone else a whole lot easier than I am willing to extend it to myself. 

I worked in the legal field for about 7 years in what seems like a past life now.  During that time I came in contact with a lot of people who had a lot of problems.  I think this might be where my judgment of people really started to change me.  I could extend grace to someone who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I could even extend a little grace to murderers.  To this day, though, I can still remember every child abuse, sexual abuse and neglect case that I dealt with.  Thankfully they didn’t come around too often, but they came around often enough.  How can someone extend grace to these people?  They hurt little children and unsuspecting victims.

We live in a fallen world.  I get that.  I really do.  The problem is, is that sometimes I forget that we’re fallen.  Even myself.  I should be above these sins that I struggle with.  I should be able to rise above.  I am a creature saved by grace and loved by the King, yet I still fall and struggle every day.

The thing with stained glass is when you’re working on a project, you’ve got it sitting on a white piece of board in front of you.  So until you get it done and hold it up to the light, there’s really no way to really tell what it’s going to look like.  I’ve never held a project up to the light and ever been disappointed with it.  I may have been a little surprised at how differently it turned out than what I had expected, but I’ve never been disappointed.  I guess looking at something through the Light makes all the difference in how we grow and extend grace and forgive and love. 

My prayer is that I start looking at everything through the Light before I judge.  I pray that I can love like Jesus, the Light of the World, loved, and live according to His teachings.  Lord, help me to see myself and others through your light.  Help your light to shine on me so that I can take it and shine in the dark places and see people through your eyes.

“Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau cam in from the open country, famished.  He said to Jacob, ‘Quick, let me have some of that red stew!  I’m famished!’  Jacob replied, ‘First sell me your birthright.’  ‘Look, I am about to die,’ Esau said.  ‘What good is the birthright to me?’  But Jacob said, ‘Swear to me first.’  So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.  then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew.  He ate and drank, and then got up and left.  So Esau despised his birthright.”  Genesis 25:29-34

I heard a commentary about this story above, and it got me thinking about my life.  I’ve been chewing on it for a couple months now and a few nights ago decided to start this blog with my focus as how we as a generation are constantly selling our future for temporary gain.  The morning after I decided to start this, I heard the exact same commentary, so I decided I had better get on it!

My goal was initially to blog every day just about my observations in my own life dealing with food and how I continue to choose a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie over losing another pound and stepping into the best that God has for me.  Then it hit me.  It’s not just food for me.  It’s now I spend my money, how I do my job, how I treat other people and how I walk with God.  Every day I would bet that there is some way that I wouldn’t normally pay attention to that I hurt myself or someone or God by the way I would rather take temporary satisfaction versus stepping into the blessings from God for my father and my father’s father and so on. 

I haven’t done a ton of studying yet on what a birthright mean back in those days, but I do know it was VERY important and to just sell your birthright to your brother for a bowl of soup was a pretty big deal.  I’m hoping to be able to dig into that to give us a little insight into the world back then and help us to see exactly what we’re giving up when we make these silly compromises.

I’m also hoping to bring in a couple of people to help me with this blog.  I would love to be able to write something on here every night, but I know my limitations, and there are just some nights that I wouldn’t be able to do that.  I’m hoping, too, that with these extra voices we’ll be able to have some very good discussion on what God is teaching us through this Esau Project as I like to call it.  I hope you will read, enjoy and join in on our discussions and offer any opinions that you may have.  Also, if you find yourself making these same compromises, just let us know, and we’ll offer up prayers for you.  You are important to us.  We love because we are called to love and we serve because we are called to serve.  My heart for this blog is to help anyone who reads this step into the very best that God has for you because I believe that this is a generation that will do great things if only we allow God to steer our lives towards His very best for us.  I hope you’ll take this journey with me.