My co-worker, David, shared the following story recently. It is the story of Hiroo Onada.
Hiroo’s life is a heroic yet deeply tragic one. He was posted to the Philippines in the last days of WW2 as an Intelligence Officer. Soon after his arrival, the Allies overran the island where he was stationed, and he and three other Japanese soldiers ran into the jungle. They evaded capture and detection, and for the next thirty years, continued to wage guerilla warfare against ‘the enemy’ (mostly Filipino farmers and fishermen), killing 30 and injuring over 100 others. During that time, two of his comrades were killed in skirmishes with local patrols and one surrendered, leaving him to fight on alone. Over the years, numerous attempts were made to communicate with the group to inform them that the war was over, but in each case, Onada and his comrades were convinced that these were Allied tricks to get them to surrender, because, they reasoned, it was impossible that Japan could have lost the war. It was not until 1974 that Onada was convinced to abandon the fight, when his commanding officer, now retired and working in a Tokyo bookshop, was flown in to relieve him of his duties. Onada’s response was moving:
We really lost the war! How could they have been so sloppy? Suddenly everything went black. A storm raged inside me. I felt like a fool. What had I been doing for all these years? Had the war really ended thirty years ago? If it had, what had Shimada and Kozuka died for? If what was happening was true, wouldn’t it have been better if I had died with them?
At the beginning of a new year, this sad story reminds us that it is really important that we have a right understanding of the Big Picture before we immerse ourselves in details. God’s Big Picture is revealed in Revelations 5:9-10 tells of multitudes redeemed by the blood of the Lamb from every tribe, tongue, people and nation around the throne in worship. That’s where history, the world, is heading. And His strategy for fulfilling this is… us – you and me, ordinary disciples who make disciples who make disciples (2 Timothy 2:2 & Matthew 28:18-20). Now is a good time to reassess how the details of our lives are lining up, or veering away from God’s Big Picture, and if the latter, now is the time to make changes. Better to do it now than wake up one day to the terrible realization that we spent our whole lives focusing on the wrong priorities.