My Musings

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dedication and Faithfulness: Lessons from the Enemy

The heroism and honor of World War II have always fascinated me. My grandfather served in the military at that time and so have the grandfathers of many of my peers. It is of great interest to me to learn of the valor of their generation.

Perhaps the greatest book that I have ever read on the subject of World War II is Flags of our Fathers by James Bradley. This book is a detailed account of the fierce battle that raged on the sands of Iwo Jima written by the son of one of the men who raised the flag on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima.

In the 35-day fight for this eight-square-mile volcanic island, 6,821 marines and Navy personnel were killed, more than four times the number of American troops killed in two years in Iraq. About 22,000 Japanese defenders were killed, including 1,600 after the island was declared "secure" by military authorities at the end of March 1945. The tunnel network was so impenetrable that the last two Japanese soldiers did not surrender until November 1949, more than four years after the war ended.

The heroism exhibited by Americans during those 35 days is beyond belief. They fought and died with great honor seeking only to end the war and get back home to their families and sweethearts.

Equally amazing is the story of those two Japanese soldiers. They were completely cut off from any communications with their commanders. They had no rations and were forced to sneak out and scavenge whatever they could find on this now American-occupied piece of ash. Yet, despite years of life like this, they refused to come out and surrender. They held steadfast to the orders that their commander had given them before they were left alone, “Do not surrender!”

Finally in 1949, they came across several newspaper clippings discussing the fact that the war was over. At first they thought that it was some sort of a propaganda tool being used by the Allies, but eventually they came to know the truth. They presented themselves to the Americans with a conditional surrender. They would surrender only if they could be assured that they would not have to return to Japan. They were so ashamed that they had not died alongside of their compatriots that they could not bear to show their face to their friends and families back home. Their wish was granted.

The actions of the Japanese soldiers during World War II were absolutely atrocious. They committed war crimes that make the Nazi’s look like the Easter Bunny. These men were vicious, immoral animals. I have never been so challenged by a group of people that I hold in such contempt as I was when I read about these men faithfully struggling to win this war for over four years after the war had ended!

It is a shame to Christians that these men, fighting for their emperor and their dream of world conquest were able to remain faithful despite the most unthinkable living arrangements and Christians today are only able to remain faithful to our living, all-powerful God for a few days or weeks. Faithfulness in Christians is almost a forgotten virtue in these modern times.

Those two soldiers stayed faithful to a war that they had lost years before they ever realized. They stayed true to their losing cause for years. The Bible is clear that we as Christians are fighting a battle that we will ultimately win. We are fighting for the greatest cause that mankind has ever known…to win souls to Jesus Christ. With a much greater cause and much greater reason to serve faithfully to the end, Christians are only becoming less and less dedicated to Christ.

Friends, let’s change this trend…let’s stay faithful to Christ! Let's serve Him and love Him the way that he deserves!

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