This spring the women of UFC are studying the final book of the Old Testament, and each Friday a different woman in our church is answering a series of questions that relates to what we’re studying from God’s messenger in Malachi. Today blog editor Jaime Sherman shares a bit of her story with us as it relates to this study.
In Malachi 1:6-9, God accuses the priests of not honoring Him. What does honoring God look like in your own life?
Ever so often when my back is aching, my hip is acting up, or my neck is tight, I schedule an appointment with a chiropractor. When he steps into the treatment room, he asks me, “What are you here for?” I almost always reply, “I need you to crack my back,” knowing well that he prefers I say, “I’m here for a tune up.” Apparently the word “crack” doesn’t give his profession a good rap, but whichever way I say it, the truth is that I need a good whack to get back into right alignment. Even a slight misalignment can cause pain to radiate through my body, but when my spine is perfectly aligned, I feel healthy and strong.
The same can be said concerning my relationship with the Lord. If I have my priorities straight, if I am properly placing Him at the center of everything I do, my relationship with Him flourishes and the overflow blesses others in my life. But when I prioritize other people or projects over Him and base my contentment on what other people can do for me, my spiritual life suffers a serious misalignment and dishonors my God.
Early in marriage, through a series of disappointments, I decided I needed a simple list of priorities to guide my decision-making. I call it my 1-2-3 list:
3. All else
Jaime Sherman grew up fluent in the stories of the Bible and first started officially studying the Bible on her own as a fourth grader when she tagged along to a woman’s Bible study. But it wasn’t until Jaime was pregnant with her first child in early 2005 that the adventure of exploring God’s Word in depth began in earnest. She had been drawn to the biblical retellings penned by novelist Francine Rivers, and she dreamed up the idea of having her writing students place themselves in the biblical accounts of those mentioned in Hebrews 11. But in order for this to work, she felt she had to know everything she could about each of these heroes of the faith and about the language of the text. And so began the first of many Bible study projects Jaime has embarked on in the last 15 years. She is thoroughly enjoying the study of Malachi as it gives her a chance to dig deeper into the Hebrew language and work to understand the context and heart of the story being told for the Jewish readers of the day — and for us today!
I don’t follow my 1-2-3 list perfectly now 19 years later, and I certainly have to place myself back in right alignment more often than I’d like to admit. But when I prioritize God above my husband and everything else, I choose to honor Him, and the results are blessed.
Have there been any people in your life who you have found yourself honoring above God? What did that look like?
Two months after Andy and I said “I do,” I gave notice at my part-time job because our schedules just weren’t lining up. I was spending weekdays trying to stay busy in my new homemaker role as my hubby worked an 8-5 job. Then after a sometimes disastrous attempt at dinner or over long weekends, I would jet off to work to chase the next breaking story for the local newspaper, while my hubby sat at home without his new bride. The schedule just wasn’t working, so after eyeing two day jobs at the paper and being turned down, I gave notice. It was the best decision I could have made, but it was also a hard season of tears and questions for God. I loved the information gathering, the writing, the deadlines, and the work as a team. I also wanted to be a wife and someday a mommy, but I wrestled to understand my new calling, especially as we were still adjusting to married life.
Over the next several months, I started to learn more about honoring God, His plan for my life, and His perfect timing. By stripping away my professional aspirations, allowing newly married life to include challenges, and giving me long hours of solitude, God showed me that He was the only One who could fill the empty places in my heart. A job would never satisfy my longings, and my husband couldn’t meet all my needs. God alone would fill up the empty places in me, comfort every emotion I faced, and cover every need that sprung from a sin-scarred world.
When I surrendered my will and honored Him as Lord of my life, He brought beauty from a difficult season and allowed me to move into a new job with the right perspective. He also gave me sweet time with my husband in which we just enjoyed each other rather than me expecting him to understand my emotions and meet my every need.
God values obedience to Him above sacrifices. Have there ever been any areas in your life that you tried to cover over sin/disobedience with a “sacrifice” of being good in a different area? How did that play out?
Oh, how I love Brianna’s courage to ask us the hard questions in this study. I have long said, “There’s no growth in easy.” Yes, throughout my life, I have tried to cover over sin in one area of my life with the sacrifice of being good in something else. I am a perfectionist, one who is terribly flawed and struggles to accept grace. Throughout my life I’ve muddled up the truth that salvation is an undeserved gift from my loving Heavenly Father with the lie I can somehow earn favor with Him. And so often I attempt this through being busy and then misaligning my priorities. I can look like I’m serving God by being busy helping His people, but I’m really shoving Him aside, not making Him first from the moment my eyes open to their closing at the end of the day. In these times, I need to place myself on His adjusting table and allow Him to “crack” me back into right alignment. The beautiful thing is that He is gentle and kind, full of mercy and grace, time after time.
In Malachi, the priest’s sins were having an effect on their own children. Sin often has a ripple effect on those closest to us. What ripple effect of sin have you experienced in your life, either from someone else’s sin affecting you or from your own sin affecting others?
The seasons in which I busy myself with projects for God instead of working with Him to accomplish His best I have hurt my marriage and my children. The ones I love most have felt pushed aside, but even worse, when I am running on my own timetable and rushing through everything, I have wounded them with my words and tone. I am currently in a season in which I am assisting with an end-of-the-year program, and I am keenly aware that I must start each day with my Lord, steadying my heart and allowing His priorities to become mine. Then, as I adventure through each day trying to balance everything on my to-do list, I must remind myself to slow, bend low, and hold my littles close, so they will know they are loved. I must slow, look my teens and hubby in the eyes, and really listen to how they’re doing. I want my life to be a blessing, not a curse in their lives.