I’ve carried that knife in my pocket nearly every day since. Even though my father never saw it, in my heart it was his knife. Whenever someone saw it, I told them the story. I travel a lot and have lost my share of knives in the airport. A few times I nearly lost “the knife” to airport security. Usually, I remember in time to stick it in my checked luggage. Today was not that day. I walked up to the X-Ray machine, reached into my pocket and felt the knife. My heart sank. I said a quick prayer, stuck it in my book bag and put the bag into the X-Ray machine. As the bag came out, I watched the security guard grab it. I knew he would have a hard time finding what he was looking for, so I opened the bag for him. He pulled out the knife, opened it, and held it over the acrylic disposal box. He looked at me for permission. I said, “OK,” and watched him drop it into the box. I grabbed my bag, walked about 5 steps from the counter and burst into tears.
I was surprised by how difficult it was. My emotions welled up within me—irrational and unholy. I felt like the Lord was stripping me, taking from me all that I have held onto. My father died just before we left for the mission field; so, emotionally, the loss of my father is intertwined with the other relationships and things we left behind. As the security guard dropped the knife into the box, I wanted to yell at him, as though he were the Lord, saying, “What do you want?! Do you want me to arrive at the temple completely naked?” (In my mind, the guard would have responded, “No sir—just the knife.”) It wouldn’t be bad if we did arrive at God’s house with nothing to hold onto but God himself. In one sense, we all walk through the Pearly Gates that way. In my head, I know that the knife was easily replaceable. But, the loss of it brought back all those emotions of loss.
The good news is that I’m probably not the first guy to cry after walking through security.