Maybe It’s Time

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To listen to this reflection as a podcast, click here.
Lt. Hiroo Onada did not give up without a fight. 
When the Japanese withdrew from the Philippine island of Lubang in December 1944, they left behind four soldiers.  Their orders were to “carry on the mission even if Japan surrenders.”
One of the soldiers gave up after six years.  Another was killed in a skirmish with local police in 1954.
The 22-year-old Onada remained hidden in the island’s mountainous interior and dug in for the long haul.  He kept himself alive by raiding the fields and gardens of local citizens.  He killed some of them in violent clashes.
A national manhunt was organized.  More than 13,000 soldiers and volunteers tried, in vain, to capture him.  The search cost almost half a million dollars.
The authorities pleaded with him to surrender. 
He ignored the loudspeakers that blared the news of his nation’s defeat, believing it was a plot designed to draw him into the open.  He studied the leaflets that rained down on the jungle announcing that Japan and America had actually become allies, and even looked at pictures and letters from his own family urging him to give up. 
But he decided it was all a trick.
Finally, Onada’s former superior officer, Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, flew to Lubang and personally ordered him to surrender.  He did so on March 10, 1974, almost 29 years after the formal end of World War II. 
Onada handed his sword to Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos, who pardoned him on the spot. 
His war was finally over. 
When asked about what he had endured, Onada was blunt:  “Nothing pleasant happened in the 29 years in the jungle.”
Before we dismiss this Japanese soldier as hopelessly stubborn, it’s worth remembering that all too many people are acquainted with waging an Onada-like personal war.
Perhaps you are one of them. 
You’ve read books and heard messages and gone on retreats and consulted with wise friends and experienced moments of inspiration that have led you to consider throwing your whole self – body, mind, and soul – into the arms of God. 
But maybe it’s a trick. 
Maybe it’s just your longing for a heavenly Father because your earthly father never came through.  Maybe some people with an axe to grind made up a story about a Jewish teacher centuries ago and millions of others have fallen for it.  Maybe it’s just your digestion. 
God keeps extending his hands in your direction.  He’s offering peace.  Reconciliation.  Hope. 
But maybe his real game is that he just wants you to feel miserable for all your years of not-good-enoughness. 
There comes a moment when you have to decide if he’s telling the truth, and if you really want to stay in the jungle forever.
Maybe it’s time to put down your sword.
Maybe it’s time to let God accept your surrender.