Searched

Every time I step into the airport security line, I feel a little sick to my stomach. There’s something so unnerving about the possibility of having my bags searched. I know these practices keep our skies safer, but they still intimidate me. Fortunately I’ve only been escorted from the line once. 

After a spending a week in Minnesota with a girlfriend—enjoying a reprieve from the Texas summer heat—I packed my suitcase and prepared to re-enter the hundred-degree temperatures of my home state. Before we left I picked up a wild rice pancake mix for my parents made from the famous Minnesota staple.

As my bags passed through the x-ray machine at the airport, a large mass was detected in my suitcase. Sure enough, security took me aside, and searched for the gray object that appeared on their screen. I think they thought me slightly crazy when their search revealed the culprit—pancakes for Mom and Dad.

Searches keep us safe, but we still shirk from their scrutiny. Most of us hate being examined or evaluated. It doesn’t matter if it’s at the airport, quarterly reviews, or while we spend time alone with the Lord, cold sweats ensue.

At times when we feel particularly pressured and worn, the fear of exposure grows even more real. Verses that once brought comfort now unnerve us. Take Psalm 139:5. David writes, “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.”

It’s a picture of an encircled city under siege about to be sacked. A poignant reminder that it’s not just circumstances that close in on us—our Creator encircles us and even exposes our insecurities.

If we’re honest, sometimes we don’t want to be sacked, sought, or seen. We just want some quiet space. Yet if we stay in hiding, we’ll miss David’s point. God’s presence probes but ultimately protects.

Look again at Psalm 139. The poem starts with God’s perfect perception. God knew when David rose in the morning and rested at night. God knew his plans before he made them, his paths before he walked them, and his poems before he penned them. Like that encircled city, God encircled David and laid his hand on him. As a result, David praised God’s infinite knowledge of him.

David also recognized God’s permeating presence. He couldn’t escape—heaven’s heights or death’s dwelling couldn’t conceal him. God would guide him and grab his hand amidst the dawn or deepest sea. Darkness and daylight were the same to God.

The reason David couldn’t hide from God—and the reason we can’t either—is that he created everything. God wove us together and wrote our days. Even when we can’t grasp the particulars of his plan, we can still praise him and his infinite thoughts toward us.

The psalm ends the same way it started, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts, and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23–24).

David doesn’t hide from exposure—instead he invites it. He knew that lurking behind any sense of self-righteousness were feelings of anger and anxiety akin to those of the wicked he had just rebuked. So he invites God’s search and then asks for divine direction to lead him in the better path.

Such words summon our secretive souls out of the darkness. Instead of running, God invites us to take our hurts and frustrations to him. And when we allow him to look beneath our pain—exposing the anxiety, anger, and fear—healing begins. We find the safety we’ve been searching for, not in the dark corners where we thought it would be found, but in the light of his loving face.

Today, let’s stop hiding and surrender to God’s search. Will you join me? 

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