On December 26, 1944, Second Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda of the Japanese army was sent to the Philippine island of Lubang. His mission was to resist the American advance, and he was ordered to fight on indefinitely. Onoda never got word when the war ended some months later. For thirty more years he went on fighting World War II. He lived in hiding, came out at night to steal food from the villages, shot at people now and then. About ten years into it he found a newspaper article about himself, but he thought it was a trick to get him to surrender. The Philippine government dropped leaflets into the jungle, asking him to come out. They brought loudspeakers in and shouted, “Onoda, the war is over.” One day his own brother stood at the microphone and begged him to give up, but he didn’t believe it. He fought on until 1974, when the Japanese government sent in his old commanding officer, Major Taniguchi, who ordered Onoda to surrender. He finally gave up.
That man’s mind was trapped in 1945, he shut out the good news of peace and lost 30 years of his life hiding in the jungles, loyal to a lost cause. We can be like him today, with our thoughts and feelings trapped in a war that ended long ago.
The night Jesus was born, the angels stepped up to the microphone and shouted, “Peace on earth” (Luke 2:14). For 2000 years God has been dropping leaflets of the good news into the jungles of our minds. Through his cross Christ won the victory over everything against us. It’s time to give up our lost causes, come out of hiding and live again in a new, post-war world of grace, ruled by Christ.
Written by Ray Ortlund