Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Parable of the Backpack

by Becky Porter

It was a hot summer Saturday, just a week or two after another school year had ended, when the unpacking of the backpacks ensued.  Our youngest had just finished preschool, and his small Elmo backpack held nothing but a plastic folder with a couple of papers.  I made a mental note that he would need a new, larger backpack when the first day of kindergarten rolled around.

In age order, up the line, each child emptied his or her bag of a years' worth of detritus.  Handfuls of paper were placed in the basket by our back door, waiting to go to the recycling bin.  Little bits of trash were tossed out, and the packs were hung again on their hooks near the garage.

And then . . . it was Sam's turn.  As our oldest child, he had just completed seventh grade.  The entire school-year he had complained about the weight of his pack, sometimes literally dragging it in from the van.  Every morning as he heaved it onto his shoulders, I would wince.  So many days I would plead, "Are you sure you need to carry all of that?  Isn't there something you can take out?"

Now, Jeff and I sat beside each other on the couch and watched, in a kind of horrified fascination, as Sam's backpack was emptied: reams of worksheets and old assignments, a broken binder, his lunch bag, pencil lead, and more began to pile up on the large, leather ottoman.

Toward the end of the process, our son pulled out a large rock; it easily weighed a couple of pounds.  

"I forgot all about this!" Sam exclaimed. "I took this to show my science teacher when we started talking about rocks."

"How long has that been in there?" I asked slowly.

His answer: "Since the first month of school."

I am left to wonder how often I carry unnecessary burdens in my life.  What have I placed in my sack and what am I currently lugging around, complaining about, when I have the sweet opportunity daily and weekly to place my burdens at the Savior's feet?  

Today I will make time to answer my Master's call:  "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."  (Matthew 11:28)

Today I will empty my backpack of all that weighs me down.


  1. Love this parable and your perspective, Becky. Perfect way to start the Sabbath. :)

  2. I loved this! I waited for each back pack to be opened & emptied out. And then it hit! How many rocks have I been carrying around. I am certainly going to open my back pack with it's varying sizes & weights of rocks as it were & lay them at my Savior's feet. No wonder my back hurts Becky! lol

  3. This reminds me of a talk by John Bytheway when he tells of a similar experience with a Cub Scout who had packed several giant cans of beef stew in his backpack prior to a hiking trip. The title of the talk was, “What's In Your Backpack?” I love your personalized version, though. Such an important message.

  4. i wrote a post about our burdens as back packs a couple years ago. A pastor I heard got me thinking about that analogy. You can read it here, if you'd like:



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