I sat with my first cup of coffee on Saturday morning, reading the Living Section of the newspaper.
Steve, a non-coffee-drinker, read the editorial page.
He stopped to read an article out loud. It is a common practice between us. Even though we know the other will read it eventually, when something stirs us, tickles us, or befuddles us, we stop and read it out loud to the other.
Headline: Japanese Second World War soldier who refused to surrender until 1974 after 29 years in hiding dies at 91.
The story intrigued me. Not so much because of the story itself, but because of the vision I had of so many of us.
Hiding even though the war is over.
Fighting a battle that has long since been won by someone else .
Refusing to believe the truth.
Ignoring the facts.
Hiroo Onoda was a Japanese imperial soldier who was commissioned in the Philippines during World War II. When he was 20 years old he left his job at a Chinese trading company, trained for war, and was selected to be a part of the Imperial Army Intelligence.
In 1944, Onoda was sent to Lubang Island in the Philippines. But the island was conquered in February of 1945, and the Japanese lost the war the following August.
The war ended.
World War II was over.
Hiroo refused to believe it.
He continued to hide out in the jungle, take pot shots as civilians, polish his gun, scrounge for food, and patch up his uniform. He continued looking out for enemy troops and fighting on the Philippine island… for 29 years. Some people died because of it.
The government had used airplanes to drop leaflets, newspapers, letters from family members, and photographs to convince him to come out of hiding. Delegates from Japan, folks from mission organizations, and various government officials used loudspeakers to urge him to leave—to call him out of the brush, down from the tress, out from under the rocks.
But he refused to believe it. He refused to lay down his arms.
It was only when his former commander (whom the government had to pull from a bookstore in which he worked) flew to the jungle and reversed his 1945 orders to stay behind and spy on American troops, did he finally believe the news and come out of hiding.
That was in 1974, 29 years after the war had ended.
It all sounded silly, until I pictured myself hiding out in the jungle with him. Perhaps you are there too.
The war is over. Jesus has won.
He fought the principalities; He defeated the enemy; He conquered sin and death.
He died. He rose. He reigns.
And yet, so many of us hide out in the jungle of our own fears rather than live free.
Refuse to lay down our weapons and continue to take pot shots at unknowing civilians.
Scrounge around for crumbs rather than feast on the bounty that Jesus has prepared for us.
He call it the abundant life. Life to the full.
Are you waiting for the Royal Commander to come and give you the news? Do you need to hear it firsthand? If so, here it is.
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (God declared all out war on Satan and the powers of darkness.) 1 John 3:8
Jesus said it: “I have overcome the world” (John 16:35).
Jesus said, “It is finished” (John19:30).
Yes, there is a spiritual battle that we will continue to fight until we leave this earth. The enemy still takes pot shots at you, and at me. But the war is over. Jesus won. You won. It is finished.
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
I would hate to think that I would waste 29 years, 29 days, 29 minutes, 29 seconds fighting a battle that has already been won.
I hope you’ll join me today by walking in the victory that has already been won for you. Don’t waste another minute hiding in the jungle fear, shame, or condemnation.
If you’ll join me, leave a comment that says, “Praise God, the war is over! The victory is mine!”