Lately I’ve been talking and writing about this idea of being in prison. Sometimes God takes us through seasons where he makes our worlds very small, and it doesn’t make sense to us. It got me thinking about Paul, John and others who wrote most of the New Testament while sitting in prison. I thought about the excuses I often gave and the things I complained about in my metaphorical prison sentence. They are things I say that discount my calling as a writer/ speaker/ teacher and discourage my heart. Here are 10 things we never heard Paul and John say in prison:
- I’m too tired to write.
- Only 20 people are going to read this, so why bother.
- I should be “out there.”
- God must be done using me if I’m here.
- Doesn’t God know I’m more effective as a speaker than a writer?
- I thought I was called to preach the gospel, but since I’m stuck here, I guess I was wrong.
- I’m not doing enough for the kingdom; I should be doing more.
- I’m just not happy.
- I’m wasting my gifts.
When I read this list, I have to say “ouch” because such things have often come from my heart. They reveal what I truly believe about God and about myself. I’m not saying that Paul and John never had down moments or moments where they thought these things. However they never had the audacity to put them on paper. In fact, they put quite the opposite on paper. What they wrote were words of deep faith and deep hope in spite of their dire circumstances. We know that they continued to preach the gospel and advance the kingdom no matter where they were.
The challenge for you and for me is to replace the faithless statements above with faith-full truths from scripture. I know what’s on my new list, what’s on yours?