The Bible tells us that the apostle Paul was arrested, tried, and punished multiple times for the sake of the gospel. He was whipped five times, enduring thirty-nine lashes each time. But that was not the end of his tortures. He was beaten with rods three times, stoned by an angry mob and left for dead, and shipwrecked three times. In his travels, he faced the perils presented by robbers, barbarians, and wild animals. He was also imprisoned for years by the Romans, suffering hunger, thirst, cold, dampness, and nakedness. In prison in Rome, he was chained to his guard and had no privacy.
Yet, he managed to write a good part of the New Testament while suffering all those things. In fact, he wrote while in prison the epistles of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon–now appropriately known as his Prison Epistles.
Then there was the apostle John. He lived longer than any of the other apostles but did not write the Gospel bearing his name until he was an old man. His deepest writing, however, occurred even later, toward the end of his life, when he was involuntarily exiled to a rocky little island called Patmos in the Grecian archipelago. Yet, in the midst of the forced labors and problems of old age, he wrote there the book of the apocalypse, Revelation.
These two apostles faced unimaginable trials and problems that would have stopped lesser people. Yet, they wrote a combined 18 (19 if you think that Paul wrote the book of Hebrews) of the 27 books in the New Testament. They never offered any excuses for not writing. They just did what God had called them to do–they wrote. And how much richer the world has been for their efforts. The influence of their writings are inestimable.
What’s our excuse?
(In the next post, we will finish this consideration of excuses, looking at one of the authors who most influenced both my teaching and my writing. I hope you’ll follow. )