Tim Challies’ article “Show All History” in Christianity Today, reminds us of AOL’s disastrous mishap in 2006. Dr. Abdur Chowdhury accidentally released to the public a compressed text file containing twenty million search keywords for over 650,000 users over a 3-month period. Though AOL immediately withdrew the data, it had already seeped through the Internet. These 650,000 were victims of their search histories; histories that were made available to complete strangers, giving them the opportunity to reconstruct a person’s life.

Challies provides the following searches of one of the AOL users:

body fat calliper 2006-03-01 18:54:10
curb morning sickness 2006-03-05 08:53:23
get fit while pregnant 2006-03-09 18:49:37
he doesn’t want the baby 2006-03-11 03:52:01
uou’re pregnant he doesn’t want the baby 2006-03-11 03:52:49
online degrees theology 2006-03-11 04:05:24
online christian colleges 2006-03-11 04:13:33
foods to eat when pregnant 2006-03-12 09:38:02
baby names 2006-03-14 19:11:10
baby names and meanings 2006-03-14 20:01:27
physician search 2006-03-23 10:20:04
best spa vacation deals 2006-03-27 20:04:09
maternity clothes 2006-03-28 09:28:25
pregnancy workout videos 2006-03-29 10:01:39
buns of steel video 2006-03-29 10:12:38
what is yoga 2006-03-29 12:17:31
what is theism 2006-03-29 12:18:30
hindu religion 2006-03-29 12:18:56
yoga and hindu 2006-03-29 12:32:05
is yoga alligned with christianity 2006-03-29 12:33:18
yoga and christianity 2006-03-29 12:33:42
abortion clinics charlotte nc 2006-04-17 11:00:02
greater carolinas womens center 2006-04-17 11:40:22
can christians be forgiven for abortion 2006-04-17 21:14:19
roe vs. wade 2006-04-17 22:22:07
effects of abortion on fibroids 2006-04-18 06:50:34
abortion clinic charlotte 2006-04-18 15:14:03
symptoms of miscarriage 2006-04-18 16:14:07
water aerobics charlotte nc 2006-04-18 19:41:27
abortion clinic chsrlotte nc 2006-04-18 21:45:39
total woman vitamins 2006-04-20 16:38:16
engagement gifts 2006-04-20 16:57:04
engagement rings 2006-04-20 16:58:37
mom’s turning 50 2006-04-20 17:51:13
high risk abortions 2006-04-20 17:53:49
abortion fibroid 2006-04-20 17:55:18
benefits of water aerobics 2006-04-20 23:25:50
wedding gown styles 2006-04-26 19:37:34
recover after miscarriage 2006-05-22 18:17:53
marry your live-in 2006-05-27 07:25:45

He points out that this woman goes from searches on pregnancy, to realization that the father does not want the baby, to turning to abortion clinics and whether or not abortion is compatible with her faith, to dealing with a miscarriage, to eventually moving on. Challies comments, “What is so amazing about these searches is the way people transition seamlessly from the normal and mundane to the outrageous and perverse. They are, thus, an apt reflection of real life.”

clearThe search history made tangible this woman’s most troubling emotions. The sad truth is that we are willing to pour out the depths of our soul to a search engine, often willing to admit more to an unforgiving and permanent track record than we will to a God who offers comfort and grace. This is a distressing glimpse of the reality of the sad plight of the human condition. What twisted search histories inhabit our own hearts? I would hate to see a written transcript of my own sin, but perhaps this is to be taken as a reminder of the darkness we are capable of, a darkness that we often seem to forget. After all, the search history knows us better than we know ourselves—they remember even when we choose not to. Convicting, right? How willing are we to expose our search histories before God? Challies concludes, “While the search engines may never forget, I am grateful that God does forget.” Hebrews 8:12 contains God’s beautiful promise to those who have confessed their sins, “I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Remember no more – what exactly does that mean?  Throughout the Old Testament, when God chooses to “remember” His covenant with His people, He is not actually remembering something that He once forgot; rather He is honoring and keeping in mind His promise to them.  In the same way, when God says He will “remember their sins no more,” God still knows our sin, but He does not hold us accountable to it. We are not bound to the condemnation that we deserve. God sees our search histories. He sees the depths of our heart, yet He loves us the same.

Grace: something no search engine can ever provide.

Where are you searching?