Paralysed with terror I watched as the uniformed border guards at the security checkpoint literally dismantled the battered VW, pulling off mudguards, side panels, even the bumper bars. The driver was next to the car on his knees, his hands on his head. A scowling guard stood watch over him while aiming an AK-47 rifle at his head.
My hands clung to my steering wheel like a bird's talons to a branch in the midst of a wild storm. My face drained of all color, my stomach had a leaden, sinking feeling, and adrenaline spiked every nerve ending throughout my entire body. It felt like a billion tiny needles were piercing my skin. What on earth did I think I was doing? This was sheer folly!
* * *
The book binder draped an over familiar arm around my shoulders, "You'll be fine, Pietr. When you pass through the checkpoint be confident, calm and relaxed. Easy, no?"
* * *
My arms and chest were shaking uncontrollably. I could have sworn I was naked and in the midst of a snowstorm, although it was a warm summer day.
With a triumphant shout the guards found contraband in a concealed panel in the VW's boot. My heart missed a beat and then crashed back into action like a jackhammer loose in my chest. To say that I was panicking was an understatement. If they found something so well concealed, what chance did I have in smuggling my prohibited books through the checkpoint?
I glanced apprehensively at the suitcase lying next to me on the front passenger seat.
Those guards were going to open the suitcase. It was a forgone conclusion. And then I was going to rot forever in an East German prison. I had to turn my car around and go! I must flee! I began to reach for the gear column; my feet ready to engage the clutch.
* * *
I was sitting in the school cafeteria, watching the school's sports captain strutting around as he spun another tale of his sporting prowess. Nine desirable girls surrounded him, hanging off his every word. And at least that many guys lounged around the group too: laughing and clapping, just glad to be part of the captain's entourage.
I was not envious. I was jealous. If I had even an iota of Ben's confidence I could be anything I wanted to be. It was not fair.
Sudden movement broke me from my bitter reverie and I saw Hitomi, a Japanese-American girl sit next to me. "What's up, Pietr?"
"Him," I snapped, "I wish I could be confident like that."
Hitomi searched out my eyes and smiled, "I don't."
"Yeah, right." I replied dryly. Everyone wanted to be like Ben.
"No, really, I don't. For all his confidence, it all revolves around himself. He's not doing anything worthwhile with it. But there is another kind of confidence, and I have that in abundance. I have complete confidence in Jesus and in His ability to be my life-long provider."
Turning my full attention to Hitomi's plain face, I found her calm, peaceful atmosphere fill my heart with an aching sensation I had never felt before. "Tell me more about this Jesus"
* * *
The border guards marched off the balding man at gunpoint while others pushed his half-dismantled car off the road next to the checkpoint.
The closest guard pointed at me and barked, "Next!"
Meeting the guard's gaze but speaking softly so he could not hear me, I said, "I have another kind of confidence." Suddenly a tangible atmosphere of peace and calm descended over me and I stopped shaking. Color returned to my face. My hands relaxed on the steering wheel.
On a sudden impulse I popped the latches on the suitcase full of German Bibles and withdrew two of them, which I then placed in plain sight on top of the suitcase.
I drove into the checkpoint.
The border guard, AK-47 gripped menacingly in his right hand, opened the passenger door. He looked at the suitcase, at the clearly displayed prohibited German Bibles, and then locked eyes with me for what seemed like an eternity.
With a shrug he withdrew and slammed the door shut, pointing past the checkpoint, saying, "Drive on!"
Then the guard turned to the car behind mine and barked, "Next!"
I drove into East Germany. I had a delivery to make.