A discovery was made five years ago that shocked and thrilled both professional and amateur historians—the original draft of a 12-page letter written in the summer of 1775. The letter was a final, urgent plea for reconciliation between the American Colonies and the nation of Britain, sent from the Second Continental Congress and addressed directly to the British populace at large. Although the shooting had already begun in the American War for Independence, this letter was a last-ditch effort to rally enough popular support among the British people that they would persuade the King to rectify the Colonists’ grievances.
The letter itself wasn’t new to historians; but until this discovery, little was known about it except what could be gleaned from its final draft, printed in Philadelphia in July of 1775. The newly recovered copy was the original, working draft, full of edits and comments in the margins; and as such, its original readings and marginal notes reveal the proud, passionate, and conflicted state of mind of the Colonial leaders on the brink of war.
What was most surprising about the find was this: it wasn’t discovered in a private home, the basement of some municipal building, or even the private collection of some well-connected family. It was found in the attic archives of a museum in Upper Manhattan where it had been for over 100 years, mistakenly filed along with a bundle of colonial-era doctor’s bills. Even more shocking, someone decades prior had judged the whole file to be worthless and had marked it to be thrown in the trash.
Isn’t it amazing that a museum could have such a treasure for all that time and not know it? For years, they had been directing their guests’ notice to period furniture and wallpaper, when all the while a handwritten letter of international historical significance sat unnoticed in an attic drawer!
It’s scandalous to imagine and wonderful how it all worked out. And it illustrates all too well what many Christians do with the gospel. To them, the gospel did its job way back when, so now it’s packed away and forgotten. It’s misfiled with the litter and mismarked as disposable. It’s implicitly regarded as less interesting, less significant, less instructive than other specimens, so it isn’t studied or examined or even remembered—at least not in any practical way.
How’s the gospel functioning in your life today? What gospel truths are you applying or gospel behaviors actively practicing? That thing you’re most preoccupied by right now—have you considered how the gospel connects?