This week's episode is all about Rome and the Mamertine Prison. Tradition holds that the Apostle Paul was held in the Mamertine prison right before he was executed for being a follower and proclaimer of Christ. Were this the exact prison Paul was held, this was the place where the books of 1 & 2nd Timothy and Titus were penned.
Upon my first (and only) visit to Rome, the Mamertine Prison immediately became one of my favorite places. It was so solemn and serious--quite a different mood than the rest of our travels had been. Knowing that you were standing in the place where an apostle of the Lord had been (if not in the exact spot, definitely within the same city!) was a humbling, moving experience to say the very least. The one picture that I have from the Mamertine prison with me in it, I'm not smiling (you're welcome for not using that on the podcast!). I just didn't feel right smiling and having a good time while hanging out in a place where so many Christians were tortured and beaten and treated with such senseless hate and rudeness.
It is so easy for me to get discouraged sometimes. Sometimes, it just seems that there are people that are out to get you and make your life more difficult. Sometimes, your entire day goes amiss. In those moments, I urge all of us to think of the Apostle Paul. In the midst of what could have been the roughest time in his life (though he had quite a few to choose from -- 2 Cor. 11:24-27), Paul chose to be joyful and anticipate heaven. He didn't get down and sit in his cell and wait to die. He didn't even have a pity party! Instead, he sat in a cold, damp prison cell and wrote letters of encouragement and exhortation to young evangelists. He urged them (and consequently hundreds of thousands of other Christians) to be better and to continue in the work of the Lord.
When we are having down days, truly the Apostle Paul is an incredible example to us. Had he chosen to just give up, we wouldn't have such wonderful sentiments as these, written from his final days in prison:
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
"For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only, but also to all who have loved His appearing."(2 Tim. 4:6-8)The book of 2nd Timothy holds such beautiful words and more encouragement than you can probably take in a single sitting; and yet, the book is so short that I urge you to go and read it in its entirety now. How blessed are we to be able to have the Word of God, preserved through the ages so that we could be encouraged, enlightened, and empowered!