Pastor Jim Parker finished replacing the last of the hymn books on the pews and noticed something odd at the front of the sanctuary. Tentatively, he walked forward to examine it. It was an old brown beat-up suitcase, and he immediately recognized it as belonging to “Luggage” Larry. What on earth is that doing here; and where was Larry? He was never seen without this suitcase!
As he drew closer, Jim could see a small piece of paper lying on top. He bent down to retrieve it. A single line of messy handwriting revealed the message. “This is for you Jesus. I don’t want it anymore.”
Abandoning all caution, Jim opened the suitcase. Hundreds of notebooks and scraps of paper filled it to overflowing. He took the top notebook and flipped through it, reading several entries here and there. With a puzzled look on his face, he repeated the process several times.
As Jim rifled through the contents of the suitcase, two uniformed policemen entered the small church, and proceeded to walk up the aisle. Jim stood to greet them. “Hello officers, what can I do for you?”
“Are you James Parker? Pastor James Parker?” The larger of the two officers asked.
“Yes.” Jim wondered what they could want.
“Are you acquainted with a homeless man named Larry? Also known as Luggage Larry.” The shorter officer read the name from his notepad.
“Yes. Larry visits the soup kitchen I run on Baker Street. He comes here now and then as well. He is a troubled man and we talk about Jesus, and how He could help ease Larry’s troubles.” Jim was curious now. What was going on?
“Larry was found dead this morning in the alley behind your soup kitchen.” It was the first officer again. Jim looked at him and could see indifference on his face. Larry was just another statistic to them.
“How did you know to come here?” Jim had to sit down again. He couldn’t believe that Larry was dead. He had just spoken to him the day before. Larry had been more worried than normal and he had seemed weaker, but Jim had figured Larry was just feeling a little ill.
The two policemen remained standing. The larger man unfolded two pieces of paper that he was holding. “He was clutching a small black suitcase to his chest, and he was holding this church bulletin containing your name and address in one hand.” He passed it to Jim to examine.
“Yes, this is from our church. We hand them out every week.” Jim examined the bulletin. Scrawled on the back was identical handwriting to that on the note, as well as that which filled the notebooks and scraps of paper.
“We opened the suitcase he was holding, and all that was inside was a note, a stupid note. Don’t know why he was holding on to that; doesn’t make sense to me. It was some verse from the Bible.” The smaller officer rolled his eyes.
The larger officer handed the second piece of paper to Jim to read.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30, NASB)
Jim smiled. Now he understood why Larry had left his suitcase in the church. He looked up and as he had suspected, Larry had placed it at the foot of the cross. The suitcase contained every single worry, fear and burden that Larry had had over the years. He had documented them and carried them around with him for so long, unable to let go.
The symbolic act of placing his overflowing suitcase at the foot of the cross had meant that Larry had finally let go of the great weight. He had given it all to Jesus! Unfortunately, Larry hadn’t learned this earlier on so that he could have lived his life without worry, and let Jesus take care of his problems. However, Jim was thankful that Larry had died knowing Jesus as his Saviour.
Jim smiled again. “Let me tell you about Larry and his symbolic act.” He said to the two men. As he said a silent prayer that the Lord would touch these men and plant seeds for the Kingdom, he began his story.
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