The Rumors of My Death Have Been Exaggerated: But not by Much!
Part 1 of 2
You may have wondered what happened to me and my daily blog. Burn Out! Teaching at EPIC Bible College, running and teaching at Atlas Bible College, doing a daily blog, working on my doctoral dissertation, trying to improve my Spanish, being available to minister to others, and all the normal stuff of life burned me out. Why?
I didn't burn out because it was too hard. I didn't burn out because I was doing things that God didn't lead me to do. I didn't burn out because I was doing things that I disliked doing. I burned out because I got too busy for God. What does it mean to be too busy for God?
Normally, I find strength in beginning my day with a time of prayer, Bible reading, devotion, and worship. It is like breathing in fresh air, renewing the strength of my youth, and getting my mind sharply focused for the intellectual rigors of the day. In addition, spending a bit of the morning with the Lord gives me great freedom as I am reminded that I am merely a steward of each day. God is the owner. Therefore, He can interrupt, redirect, add, subtract, or lead however He wills. Ultimately, each day can only be a success when every moment is submitted to God. BUT... (and this is a huge but)
In the busyness of fulfilling my daily obligations, personal goals and frequent ministry requests, it was easy to miss my time with God. At first, it wasn't a problem, but gradually I switched from a God powered life to a Scott powered life. The privilege of interacting with students began to feel like a never ending burden. Dissertation progress came to a halt as my ever-slowing mind failed to conceive of the next step in the process. Ministry opportunities started to feel like people making unreasonable demands of MY time. Spanish practice went out the ventana (window) and dear people that are quite important to me went without the phone calls and texts that tell them that they are loved and important in my life.
The Scott powered (Me Powered) life is lonely, unproductive, exhausting, and always ends in failure. Why? I believe it is in my nature to drive myself into the ground in order to prove my worth. Of course, I only feel the need to demonstrate my worth when I am not being reminded daily that my worth is found in the Author of my Soul. In addition, the kind of work that I do is of a never-ending nature. There is no such thing as quitting time. There are very few clear victories. Most importantly, the me powered life is not biblical. John the Apostle records Jesus' words thusly,
"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5 ESV
John 15:5 contains two important truths. The first truth is that bearing fruit requires abiding (remaining, staying, waiting) in Jesus as a precursor to bearing good fruit. It is impossible to abide in myself and abide in Jesus at the same time. (Abiding in Scott = no fruit/bad fruit.) The second truth is a bit more subtle, but notice that abiding in Jesus causes one to bear fruit, not create fruit. Jesus did not say that those who abide in him would produce or make good fruit, He said that they would bear (show forth, display, carry) good fruit. It is through our connection to Jesus that He produces good fruit through us in the same way that an apple tree produces apples through its branches. When I live the me powered life, the fruit that this branch produces through my own efforts is not very good.
In short, although I pray and worship at various points throughout the day, I have been trying to do life my way, in my strength, while working towards my understanding of God's goals for my life. That is an untenable scenario for a follower of Jesus. Such hubris!
"Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain." Psalm 127:1a ESV
So, are you living, or have you lived the "Me Powered Life?" If you have, be sure to share your thoughts, recollections, remedies and prayer requests in the comments section. Pray for me and I'll be praying for you!
Oh, lest I forget, I did have a brush with death a couple of weeks ago. I have nearly fully recovered and will share about that experience and its accompanying life-lessons in Part 2 of this blog post.
In a future post, I will tell you why I'm pointing to the handcuffs on my tie. They were a gift from my spiritual father and come with quite a story!