Friday, February 1, 2019

Refusing to Surrender

(submitted by Kerry Patton)
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  Matthew 11:28-29 
He Was Still Fighting
Shoichi Yokoi was a Japanese sergeant serving in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Having spent the early part of his military service with the 29thInfantry Division in Manchukuo, an extension of the Japanese Empire into Northeast China, in 1943 he was transferred to the 38thRegiment – arriving on Guam in the Mariana Islands in February of that year.  
After fierce fighting in some of the worst conflicts of the war, American forces captured the island in 1944 in what has become known as the Battle of Guam.  Yokoi and nine other Japanese soldiers survived the conflict and went into hiding on the island.  Seven of the ten moved away, leaving only Yokoi and two others.  Those two died years later in 1964 when a flood struck the region, leaving Yokoi to live alone for another eight years…surviving on what he could hunt at night, living in a cave, thinking he was defending the region for his nation in a war that had ended…28 years earlier. While he had learned of the war’s end in 1952, he feared the disgrace of being captured, so he continued in hiding.
This surviving in hiding continued until January of 1972 when two local men were checking their shrimp traps along a nearby river.  Yokoi attacked the men thinking his life was in danger, but they prevailed upon him, ultimately carrying him from the jungle.  Yokoi was able to return to the freedom that had eluded him for what was by then over half of his life.  He returned to Japan, apologizing for what he perceived to be failure.  However, instead of shame, Yokoi enjoyed a period of celebrity, becoming a popular personality on television, and having multiple books written and documentaries made about his life.  He died a free Japanese citizen in 1997 at the age of 82.
Hiding in Captivity…though free
Romans 3:23-24tell us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”Every one of us have sinned…AND, we have all been forgiven, and washed by the blood of Jesus, provided that we accept that free gift by faith in and through Him.  
The free gift of salvation in Jesus is available to anyone who will receive it.  The war against sin, wherein the souls of humanity are at stake, has been won.  It is long over, settled at Calvary where Jesus was crucified for the sins of the whole world some two thousand years ago.
Tragically, there are many who contest the conquered ground of their own hearts.  They may find it embarrassing to surrender to their King or refuse to acknowledge his Lordship over them.  So, they live in captivity, many – for the rest of their lives holding ground in a war that ended long before they were even born.  It is this reality that compels us to live the truth ourselves and spread the Good News of Jesus to others.
Likewise, tragic are those who recognize that the war is over but remain prisoner under the bondage of hidden sin, addiction, and compromise.  John 8:36 opposes this reality in our lives by speaking: “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” Fear of ridicule, or rejection cause us to not let anyone know what every one of us already knows about all of us: ALL of us wrestle with sin in our lives. James 5:16advises us: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of an innocent person is powerful, and it can help a lot.” 
Please, let none of us live our lives hiding in the caves as forgotten soldiers still fighting a finished war.  It is time to live in the freedom that has been purchased for us all.

Almighty God forgive me for my “cave dwelling.”  How we need your power to move us into the light of forgiveness and freedom.  By your mercy and grace, help us to fulfill the teaching of scripture and come clean about our sins so that we might truly be free…indeed.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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