It’s a story about Hiroo Onoda.

Hiroo was born in Japan in 1922 and served as an Imperial Japanese Army intelligence officer in World War II. In late December 1944, he was assigned to Lubang Island in the Philippines. Within two months, only Hiroo and three other soldiers remained, the others having been killed in battle or surrendered. Finding himself now the ranking officer, Hiroo gave the order to flee into the hills. And when Japan surrendered six months later, ending World War II, that’s where they remained.  

In fact, Hiroo and the others were still hiding in the woods a year later when they found leaflets dropped from planes announcing to the Japanese holdouts that fighting had ceased, peace had come, and it was time to come out. An enemy trick, they surmised. Just propaganda. Too good to be true.  

Another year passed.  

Then another.  

In the end, one soldier ran off and two were shot to death, leaving only Hiroo who finally surrendered—in 1974. Hiroo had needlessly spent 29 years in hiding. At the time of his surrender, he still had a rifle, 500 rounds of ammunition, several hand grenades, and a dagger—weapons from a war that had, unbeknownst to him, ended three decades earlier.

Fellow believer, the war is over.

Over and done. Forever.  

And while we know that fact, do we really believe it?

We hear rumors that God is mad at us—so we hide.

We hear rumors that God is mad at us—so we hide.

Something bad befalls us and we reflexively flinch—instant confirmation that God must be at work, busy balancing the ledger.

I can’t help picturing Hiroo in the woods—cowering in the rain, falling asleep with a rifle in his arms, defecating in the woods like an animal, eking out the bleakest, narrowest existence imaginable. The prime of his life, completely wasted. For literally nothing.

I can’t help picturing another guy hiding in the woods. Naked, ashamed, scared out of his mind. He hears a voice—it sounds like the voice of his Friend—calling out his name. But no. An enemy trick. Propaganda. Too good to be true. 

The war is over.

The peace treaty is real—signed in blood.

So isn’t it time to come out? Isn’t it time to come home?

“We were God's enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son. Now that we are God's friends, how much more will we be saved by Christ's life!” - Romans 5:10 (GNT)

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