Sermon Illustrations


When Robert Browning came into her life, Elizabeth Barrett was a 39-year-old invalid. Daughter of a jealous & dominating father, her first 4 books of poetry had been published when she was just 12 years old. At 15 she injured her spine, & the resulting confinement in London affected her lungs, & she came to be regarded as a permanent invalid, doomed to spend her life in bed. But still she kept writing.

As time passed, the grief caused by the drowning of a brother, & her father’s refusal to allow any of his children to marry made her a recluse. Nearing 40, she seemed destined for a life of helplessness & gloom.

But the publication of one of her books brought about a correspondence with another poet, a man by the name of Robert Browning. He visited her, & then they wrote often to each other, with him encouraging her to try to get out of bed & make every effort to resume a normal life. But this met with strong resistance from her parents. And they resented Robert for even suggesting it.

They refused to allow him to visit her again, but the correspondence continued, & soon they were in love. Finally, more than a year later, she escaped the possessive vigilance of her father & they were secretly married. They immediately moved to Italy, & in that sunny climate it wasn’t long until she was strong & active once again.

Her parents disowned her, but she wrote almost every week, telling them that she loved them & longed for a reconciliation. After 10 years of writing to them, she received a huge box in the mail that contained all the letters she had ever sent. Not a one of them had been opened!

Although these "love letters" have now become a precious part of English literature, it’s sad to know that they were never read by her parents. Had they looked at just one, the broken relationship with their daughter might have been healed.

But no, they wouldn’t & they didn’t. We hear a story like that & we think, “Oh, what a pitiful story. What a pitiful thing for her parents to be like that.” You’re right. But let me ask you, “Is it...

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