Halford Luccock once wrote, “Every person’s mind is a haunted house. Through it flit the ghosts of vanished yesterdays.”

There are bits and pieces of yesterday that are scattered through the lives of us all. You cannot escape them. In the words of Frederick Buechner, “You carry your past with you the way a snail carries his shell.” It is on your back. It will not go away.

You may have memories that haunt you. The pasts of us all are marked by sin and failure. Great rivers are generally very crooked. The reason they are crooked is because they follow the course of least resistance. Wherever the ground is the lowest or the soil is the softest, that is where the river chooses to make its channel. Often that is why our lives are crooked. They take the course of least resistance. We go the way that costs us nothing.

Too many people are haunted by the past. A college professor asked a student if she were interested in studying history. “No,” she replied, “I think it is best to let bygones be bygones.” It is not quite that simple in dealing with your past. You cannot cut yourself off from your past. You may try to destroy it, but the best that you can do is bury it alive. And even then it won’t stay buried. It returns to power dressed as anxiety and regret.

The ultimate solution to our past is not to ignore it or attempt to bury it. What we need to do is face up to it. That’s what the Gospel demands. The Gospel is bad news before it is good news. It begins with the word, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” It does not try to sweep the past under the rug. It honestly confronts it and confesses how bad it is. Having done that, then the Gospel gives us a new opportunity.

In seminary New Testament courses, we studied about a type of manuscript called a “palimpsest.” Occasionally, a person would want to write or copy a New Testament document and had only papyrus on which something had already been written. In such a case, the writer would erase the old message and write the new message over it. By carefully examining the manuscript, you can often see traces of the old message behind the new one. Such a document is called a “palimpsest.”

That is what happens to us in Christ. He comes to erase the old bad message of sin and disobedience and to write the good news of grace and forgiveness in our lives. He can take care of the past that haunts you today if you will trust Him for it.

Lynn Jones is a retired pastor, supply preacher and author who lives in Oxford. He can be reached at

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