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Unread Letters

by Matt Hennecke
via Think on These Things, April-May-June, 2009

A childhood accident resulted in poet Elizabeth Barrett becoming an invalid and recluse. Despite her isolation her early poetry drew the attention of Robert Browning who began courting her. He eventually asked for her hand in marriage and Elizabeth and Robert were married in 1846. But there's more to the story.

In her youth, Elizabeth had been watched closely by her tyrannical father. He was strict beyond reason and attempted to prevent suitors from courting her. In fact, he did not want any of his children to marry. As a result, Elizabeth and Robert eloped, their wedding held in secret because of her father's disapproval.

After the wedding the Brownings sailed for Italy, where they lived for the rest of their lives -- exiled from her parents. Even though her parents had disowned her, Elizabeth never gave up on the relationship. Almost weekly she wrote them letters. Some were fairly lengthy, others short and poetical in form. Not once did they reply.

After ten years, Elizabeth received a large box in the mail. Inside, she found all of her letters. Not a single one had been opened. Elizabeth's years of writing, her letters pleading for reconciliation -- were for naught.

Today those letters are among the most beautiful in classical English literature. Had her parents only read a few of them, their relationship with Elizabeth might have been restored. These events were reported in the Daily Walk in May 30, 1992.

What makes the story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning so compelling is that it is so similar to another story. A story that is repeated over and over again -- generation after generation.

You see, I am aware of other letters which have been written but not read. Beautiful letters. Letters of reconciliation. Letters of hope. We know them better as epistles. These letters, written by men, but authored by God through the Holy Spirit have been written for our reconciliation, for our salvation. Sadly, they often go unnoticed, unread, unheeded. Indeed, the entire Bible, God's Word, is a book pleading for reconciliation. What is amazing is that God is pleading with us for reconciliation but He has done nothing wrong. We are the ones who have gone astray (II Peter 2:15), and yet God stoops to beg for our reconciliation.

In Colossians 1:18-23, Paul speaking of Christ says, "it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross" Why? Why would God give His only begotten Son for all of us who have gone astray? Paul tells us in verse 22: "in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach." Paul's letter speaks of reconciliation and of hope. Are you listening? What a beautiful letter. It would be a shame if it were never read, or if read, ignored.