Regret is hard to live with. Stan Caffey publicly called his miscalculation “a sick feeling of regret.” That was his public comment to the media but how did Stan and Linda Caffey ‘really’ feel when they realized their gross miscalculation?

Stan had picked it up at a yard sale ten years earlier in Donelson, Tennessee. He hung the old yellow shellacked document out in his little garage where he fixes bikes as a bit of a hobby. It decorated the garage wall. But a little over a year ago the pipe-fitter married Linda. It was time to part with some of the junk that only a pack-rat like Stan would bother collecting.

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Mrs. Linda Caffey, a cancer survivor donated the ‘excess stuff’ to the local Thrift Store. For tax purposes she itemized the things: an antique table, an 8 setting massaging shower head, a faucet, a silver set and the old yellow shellacked parchment. Fair market value for everything? She estimated: $99.99.

Even though she dropped it off at the Thrift Store, there was something about the old parchment that intrigued Linda. She even showed it to her friend Jill and told her she was donating it to the Thrift Store. She told the Thrift Store clerk that the document was probably worth something and they should check it out.

The Thrift Store tagged the old document at $2.48. They didn’t place much value on it either. In March, 2006 Michael Sparks, a music equipment technician spotted the old parchment at the Thrift Store, looked at the price and bought it.

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It was a rare official copy of the founding document of a nation – the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America. It was one of 200 commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1820 and it was printed in 1823 by William Stone.

Jill, Linda Caffey’s friend heard about the document on the news and told Linda: “You know that Declaration I saw, it’s worth $200,000 to $300,000.” And it was! In March, 2007 that old yellow shellacked parchment sold for $477,650 at Raynors’ Historical Collectible Auctions in Burlington, North Carolina.

Stan Caffey said: “I’m happy for the Sparks guy. If I still had it, it would still be hanging here in the garage and I still wouldn’t know it was worth all that.

Could something like this ever happen to you?

Is it possible you have a treasure that means very little to you? You wouldn’t call it trash but you definitely don’t see the value in it.

What about the Bible? Is it your utmost treasure? Have you found the answer for your life inside its covers? Have you received the forgiveness of sins that is freely offered within its pages? Have you accepted the Christ of the Bible who died for your sins? Have you claimed any portion of the Word of God as yours?

“For God so loved the world that He gave
His only begotten Son
That whosoever believeth in Him
Should not perish but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16 (The Bible)

What about the gift of eternal life available through Jesus Christ? How does it rank in your estimation? $2.48 plus tax?

“The wages of sin is death;
But the gift of God is eternal life
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Romans 6:23 (The Bible)

Linda Caffey told the clerk that she should check out the old parchment. But why didn’t Linda look into it? Maybe you know the Word of God is probably worth something. You might even tell someone else: “Hey man, the Bible’s worth checking out.” But is that it? You’re not going to bother?

While others hear about the gift of eternal life and happily accept Christ as their Saviour and experience the forgiveness of sins and the removal of all guilt – you don’t.

Stan figured that if he still had the old parchment it would still be hanging in his garage where it had hung for 10 years and that he still wouldn’t know its value.

How long have you known about Christ? Is it possible you will look back in eternity with deep regret? Are you making a gross miscalculation about the urgency of having your sins forgiven and under-valuing the gift of God which is eternal life?

Are you going to leave the gift of God’s Son and eternal life hanging on the wall or will you drop it off at a store – so to speak? Why not cash-in on it yourself and enjoy eternally the blessings of God salvation?

Make the right choice.

Sources: two photos and story details.
USA Today, Donated Trash is Declaration Treasure, 20070223
USA Today, Declaration Copy Nabs $477K, The Associated Press, 20070323