Sermon Illustrations

He was an unlikely criminal. In the difficult days after World War I, many veterans like Robert Elliot Burns had taken to “riding the rails” in search of work. A native of New Jersey, Burns had found the times very trying so when a friend told him of a job, he immediately agreed. The problem was “the job” was robbing a grocery store in Atlanta.

Burns found out about the plan too late to run and ended up being caught and sentenced for the robbery. He was sent to the Fulton County work camp where he was brutalized daily. Burns, a middle-class white man, was sure that he would die before his time was up. He escaped and fled to Chicago where he lived an exemplary life, but his past was ultimately discovered and he was returned to Georgia to finish his sentence. Subjected to even harsher treatment this time, he escaped again. New Jersey Governor Governor A. Harry Moore heard about Burns’ situation and refused to extradite him back to Georgia.

Being a fugitive eventually became too much for Burns and he voluntarily returned to Georgia to satisfy his sentence. Burns said that he was tired of running. Moved by the war hero’s plight, Governor Ellis Arnall of Georgia appeared before the Board of Pardons and Paroles with Burns and had his sentence commuted. With the price of his transgression paid, Burns was able to live the rest of his life in peace.

Many people spend much of their lives as fugitives. They run from God and cling to the “freedom” of their sins, unaware that they are really prisoners. God offers a pardon to all who are tired of running. This pardon is signed with the blood of Christ and is yours for the asking.

Don’t let it go unclaimed.

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

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