Most of you can remember what life was like in America before what has simply come to be called 9/11. And while we have become accustomed to living under a constant threat of terrorism, our lives are different since that infamous day. Nowhere is this more evident than at an airport. Long lines at security check points have become common place. After spending hours packing our suitcase, we now spend another hour unpacking it for intolerant people in TSA uniforms. “Take your lap top out of your bag… remove your shoes and jacket… take everything out of your pockets… have your boarding pass in your hand… etc.” You do meet a lot of new and exciting people as you put yourself back together on the other side of the conveyer belt!
Recently in Los Angeles, as I was approaching my opportunity to place all of my dangerous possessions into a plastic container, a lady in front of me called one of the security people over to where she was standing. As the TSA official approached this lady in her twenties, she reached into her purse and pulled out a metal contraption that had every kind of gadget you could imagine. It was something only a woman would think to have with her! It had a knife, a finger nail file, scissors, a screwdriver, and a cork screw. I was thinking, “If our soldiers had had these things in Vietnam, history might have been different!”
The lady handed the “gadget” to the agent willingly and said, “Here, I know this won’t be allowed on the plane, please dispose of it for me.” The man looked at her rather quizzically realizing that this item was probably quite valuable. He kindly asked if she would like to “check” it with her luggage. She said, “No, I shouldn’t have brought it—I knew better—just take it, it’s okay.”
That incident spoke to me in a powerful way. That lady could have stuck that metal object down in the confines of her purse and hoped that the screener wouldn’t catch it. She could have argued that it was valuable and should be excused, but instead she willingly surrendered what she knew was a violation of the law.
So often in our lives we try to hide or excuse our sin. We think, “I don’t intend to harm anyone with it, everyone else probably does the same thing, and besides—no one will find out anyway.” We know that we are in violation of God’s law, yet we hope that He will go easy on us, or not even notice. While those TSA officials may occasionally miss something—God never does!
“Now is the end come upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations. And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity: but I will recompense thy ways upon thee, and thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee: and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 7:3–4
It’s a good idea to allow the Lord to search our hearts and lives as David expressed in Psalm 139:23–24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” But isn’t it true that we usually know what God is going to find in His search? We may hope that He doesn’t notice it and we may think that we have it well hidden, but the truth is, like the lady in line, we know it isn’t going to pass the inspection!
Long before we stand before the Judge for the final inspection, it’s probably a good idea to “surrender” anything that doesn’t belong in our lives—to purify ourselves before the “search.” In Psalm 51:2–4, David didn’t need God to conduct a search. He knew he was in violation. “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.”
They did not haul that lady at the airport off to jail or issue her a fine. In fact, the TSA official thanked her for surrendering the item. God isn’t hoping you’ll violate His commandments so that He can punish you in some way. He is simply hoping that you will be honest about your sin and make it right.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
“Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.” Micah 7:18
Just like that lady in line—we can surrender—or we can wait for the search!