He was a wealthy man, respected, honored, and successful. He accomplished everything well, often beyond his expectations. He had a lovely wife and good children who brought him joy. Thousands would have wished to trade places with him, and yet, deep inside, he was an unhappy man. His struggle with the past gnawed at and crushed his seemingly happy life. Why? What was the cause?
Years ago he was a young journeyman blacksmith working at a faraway place, and there he had a secret affair with his employer’s young wife. One dark night, he lay in wait for his employer on his way home and killed him.
Right after he accomplished this terrible deed, he hurried away as if chased by a storm. He took the train to the next town. There he stole someone’s passport and documents and left for northern Germany. He changed his name and found work in a larger fishing village.
After some time, the daughter of the wealthy employer fell in love with him, against his will. She did not give up until he married her. So things were looking up for him; he became rich and respected. If only it were not for his past! But he could not escape it.
One morning at breakfast, his young wife told him with a smile that he had called out a strange name several times in a dream at night. He jumped up, scared to death, and rushed out. He had called his own previous name! His conscience and his terrible past held him captive.
From then on, he tried to escape his past in several ways. He worked almost day and night. His possessions doubled, even tripled. But he could not escape his past. He tried to banish the dark shadows by doing good. He thought that good deeds must eradicate evil, but even this did not bring him release. His past persisted and accused him.
He occupied himself with science and art. He read books and more books and was pleased to find authors who claimed there is no God and no eternity. He traveled and tried especially in the hustle and bustle of the big city of Hamburg to flee from his past.
I cannot list all that this rich man attempted in order to ease his conscience. But neither entertainment nor pleasures are the remedy to erase guilt and sin.
How many people try to portray happiness to others through parties and celebrations while feigning cheerfulness? But for some, their inner trouble becomes so overwhelming that in the midst of pleasure and enjoyment, they are driven to commit suicide.
Can time also heal these sins? Can it heal a murky past and the misery of various sins? Those with experience at deathbeds know of the secret accusations, mostly hidden from the world, and the often shocking confessions and anguish. They know that in this hour, the nightmare of the past can become unbearable. No, time does not heal the troubles of the past!
Let me tell you that there is a way to eradicate the past, yes, yours too! This remedy was obtained by Someone other than you, namely your Lord and Savior, on the cross of Calvary. You can never win this victory yourself, even if you have done more good deeds than the sand of the sea. Your Lord and Savior did what you could not and defeated the past.
The blacksmith in the fishing village found release from the past and peace when he found God. King David confessed in Psalm 32:3-5, “When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Where there is forgiveness of sin, there is life and salvation.
Take note of this wonderful fact: You can be freed from your past, whether it is utterly shattered and a total failure, or if there is only a single transgression. Your Savior can set you free from it all.
Jesus also bore your guilt on the cross. You must come to Him and accept His salvation in faith. Where you have sinned against someone, you must make it right. Then your past will be in order. The great, heavy, long battle will be finished. It will not be your past that now reigns in your life to enslave and dominate you. No, Jesus has conquered your past, and if you believe in Him, you also will be victorious!
Bring your burdens to the cross,
Weary pilgrim on life’s path.
At the cross you will find refuge,
There is rest for you, at last!