Recently I came across this illustration that really stuck with me for a few days so I thought I would share it with you.
At the end of WWII, the Japanese government faced a similar problem with thousands of soldiers who were hiding in the jungles and mountains in the South Pacific. Although the treaty with the U.S. had been signed and the war was over, thousands of Japanese soldiers living in the mountains and jungles of the South Pacific islands would not come out of hiding, surrender their weapons, and return to their homes to live in peace. These soldiers had been so indoctrinated with stories of what the Americans would do to them if they surrendered that they believed they would face certain torture or immediate death, so they remained in hiding and ready to fight.
How could the Japanese government convince these die hard warriors that the war was indeed over and they were not just hearing American propaganda designed to capture unsuspecting soldiers? Finally, the Japanese Emperor made a speech detailing the end of the war and pleading with them to return home. The voice of the Emperor was broadcast by radio and recorded to be repeatedly played on loudspeakers directed into the jungles and mountain caves where these men were hiding. One by one the Japanese soldiers accepted the assurance of their Emperor and turned themselves in. Some waited to be certain the war had indeed ended, but within a few months all but a few had surrendered.
After some years, it was assumed all of these hidden soldiers had been accounted for; those still missing were presumed dead. However, in March of 1974 a Japanese soldier finally came out of hiding, 29 years after the war was over. When asked why he had remained in hiding so long, this warrior now in his sixties said it had taken him that long to get over his fears. The U.S. and Japan had shared a friendly relationship for years, but this lone soldier had wasted 29 years hiding from an enemy he still feared within his mind (Healing of Memories, David Seamands).
Can you imagine being held captive by your fears for 29 years? So afraid to do anything that you do nothing! As a matter of fact I can, because I believe that many people in the church are in the same boat! It is so sad to know that God has uniquely blessed everyone one of us with gifts and abilities to use in His service, yet so many of those gifts go unused all because of that four letter word FEAR! Fear can paralyze us into doing nothing! It holds us prisoner by creating bars, doubts and fears. The strange news is that even when we are imprisoned within this mental penitentiary, we are holding the key to unlock door. Paul reminds Timothy that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1.7).Just as in the story of the Japanese soldier, God is trying to get the word out that we have no reason to be afraid. His word speaks to us in so many different places of those who take the courage to set out in faith and allow their faith to grow. Daniel in the lions den, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Joshua taking over as leader, Rahab the harlot, Peter walking on water are some of the stories that come first to mind. Through those stories as well as many others, God is screaming to us “Look, it worked for them and it will work for you! I am with you, step out in faith and don’t be afraid” Will we listen? Or will we find ourselves like that one soldier who came out 29 years later…29 wasted years! Don’t allow fear to paralyze you, do something boldly for the Lord today and allow Hm to bless you!!