I thought I was . . . my feet were on the yellow footprints, my arms raised above my head in the pose of surrender, as if I had been a fugitive on the run and now was giving up the chase. How long was I going to have to stand here like this? My bags would be through the conveyor belt by now and waiting for me to retrieve them. Still I stood as voices swirled around me but no one was talking to me, telling me it was okay to move on. How long were they going to keep me in here?
I thought I heard someone say “okay” as the clear cylinder door slid around me. I turned my head in that direction, the door opened and I exited. I didn’t get very far. A couple of steps and a female guard blocked my path. She was telling me that she was going to search me and explaining how it would be done. I was hearing her words but they weren’t yet registering with me. Why? What was the problem? No beepers had gone off. Why did she need to search me?
I worried about my bags and my boots that I needed to find. I had left them on the conveyor belt to go through security. Who knew where they were by now? This place was packed with people trying to get where they wanted to go. I was one of them. I didn’t have time for this unexpected experience and the delay it was causing me.
I had to spread my legs and hold my arms out at my sides. Then she began her search of me, her slow, methodical search. I was so uncomfortable. I felt so exposed even though fully clothed. This was a perfect stranger coming in closer contact with me than friends and family members do. Something about this just isn’t right. And yet here I was. As the search continued I grew more uneasy, felt more vulnerable, more unprotected, more exposed than ever. There was nothing I could do but submit to this search made necessary by . . . ?
By what? The past harmful actions of others, in other times, at other airports? Yes, this was for the greater good, I reassured myself; all the while wanting desperately for this to be over. I felt like I had done something wrong, I felt like a criminal. I felt like they didn’t trust me, . . . and it wasn’t over yet.
After she was done with me she sent me to another person who searched my backpack. Finding some granola bars, raisins and tangerines among the books and a jacket that were in there, I was admonished that I should have taken the food snacks out of the backpack. Then finally, I was cleared to fly. I found my boots (which I had taken off to go through security) and was on my way.
I did not like this experience of being searched, of being treated with suspicion and mistrust. Although no fault had been found in me (or on me) I did not feel vindicated; I felt diminished, I felt humiliated, I felt exposed.
Then I thought of King David and his request of God in Psalm 139:23-24) “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” other translations say, “And see if there be any wicked way in me,” and other translations simply say “know my thoughts” (not just the anxious ones). But you get the picture, King David wasn’t afraid of a search, not if God was doing the searching.
In fact, based on his words, David invited God to search him, he welcomed this opportunity with God. Why? Maybe because David knew these truths; “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)
David realized, “The Lord knows the thoughts of man; He knows that they are futile. Blessed is the man You discipline, O Lord, the man You teach from Your law;” (Psalm 94:11-12) David also knew that, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13)
So God didn’t really need David’s invitation to search him. God sees all and knows all anyway. “O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts,” David acknowledged in Psalm 7:9, that God does search our minds and our hearts. God doesn’t need our invitation or our consent to do so, it is simply a function of His Omnipresence and of His Omniscience. He is an all seeing, an all knowing God.
And yet David invited God, he actually summoned God, seemingly entreated God to search him, to test him, to know him and to see or to find any wickedness or offensiveness in him that did not please God and then he asked God to root it out, to correct it; so that he could be “led in the way of life everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
I did everything possible to avoid being searched at the airport, I followed all the rules, hoping that would be enough to spare me from being searched. But David literally cried out to God, “Search me . . . test me . . . “. Mine was an external search made by men; my mind and heart were not exposed for all to see and judge. David was seeking out the search of his inmost self, but he was entrusting himself to God not to men.
In fact David said in 1 Chronicles 21:13, ” . . . I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for His mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.” Maybe that’s why I was so nervous, I was in the hands of men. (well, a woman, but you know what I mean)
I did not like being searched. It’s nobody else’s business what’s in my backpack. But like David, I need my Heavenly Father to be continually searching my mind and my heart so that He can bring to light all that is hurting, hindering and harming me in my relationship with Him and in my relationships with others. Only God can find and remove from me that which offends Him, thereby making my load lighter and my spirit freer. I want to say with David, “Search me, O God, see if there be any wicked way in me.”
And unlike the airport search, with God searching me, I have nothing to fear. His mercy and forgiveness are great as is His compassion toward me. His searching of me is for my own good, to train me and to teach me. God’s search of me will reveal the contraband I am carrying in my mind/thoughts and in my heart, that He will take from me so that I am free to continue on my journey to eternity with Him unencumbered by the contraband I carried without need.
“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:10)
yes, search me Lord. and not only that but, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)
sincerely, Grace Day
2 thoughts on “standing firm”
I also feel invaded upon when being searched at an airport but had never compared it to David’s request for God to search him and his heart and mind. I would hope and pray that He would find nothing there that would displease Him .
This is a powerful story…thank you!