Lt. Hiroo Onada was left on the Island of Lubang in the Philippines on Christmas Day, 1944. He was 22 years old. His standing orders were to "carry on the mission even if Japan surrenders." As Japan evacuated the island, Onada and three other Japanese soldiers remained behind. One of the four surrendered in 1950. Another was killed in a skirmish with local police in 1954. Another was killed in 1972.

Over the years, Lt. Onada lived off the land and raided the fields and gardens of the local citizens. He killed at least thirty nationals during his twenty-nine year personal war. He ignored the leaflets that were dropped and the command given over loudspeakers announcing that Japan and the United States had become allies. At one point, more than 13,000 men were used to try to locate him and convince him to surrender. The cost of that effort was more than half a million dollars. Finally, on March 10, 1974, after more than 29 years, he surrendered a rusty sword to his former superior officer who read a cease-fire order. He was the last man to surrender from World War II.

When you think about it, all of us have some battles that we fight. The battle of good vs. evil rages every day around us and in us. We want for good to win and for the evil in our world to lessen. We fight battles over time, priorities, and managing our own lives and families. Sometimes we battle those closest to us with weapons of angry words or unspoken resentments. For some, illness is the battle that consumes our lives. There are battles everywhere.

There are some fights we can't avoid. There are some that are worth fighting. Some aren't. The key for us is to recognize which is which. Do you need to surrender?

You've probably heard the old saying that you can "win the battle and lose the war." The prematurely aged 52-year-old Lt. Hiroo was quoted as saying, "Nothing pleasant happened in 29 years in the jungle." His battle cost him much more than we can imagine. One thing of which I'm confident, our war has already been won. Jesus made sure of that at Calvary and the empty tomb.

Our war has already been won

The sting of sin is death. The power of death is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:56-57)