“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14
For 28 years he never surrendered. Day after day, he continued looking out for the enemy preparing to fight if necessary. He stayed vigilant, on guard and was willing to die. He was loyal to his cause and wouldn’t betray it. He was determined to see the battle through. Shoichi Yokoi wouldn’t surrender.
What Shoichi Yokoi didn’t know was that the war he was fighting had ended twenty-eight years earlier. He didn’t realize that his beloved country of Japan had surrendered. American forces had arrived on the island of Guam where Yokoi was stationed, but he had managed to evade them and flee to the jungle with a small group of ten fellow soldiers. One by one, they had left but Yokoi never did. He continued looking out for the enemy and he refused to surrender. He preferred death over surrender. It was only when he was surprised by local residents and captured on January 24,1972, that he realized the war was over. Japan had surrendered but Yokoi never had. He stayed loyal till the end.
I admire Yokoi’s tenacity. We can learn from his example. Every disciple of Christ is in a battle. Ephesians 6 tells us that we are involved in a warfare against “spiritual forces”. We battle against the forces of Satan and his desire to destroy our lives. We fight for the Kingdom of God and we fight to preserve our families and communities. We face daily warfare against an enemy who is seeking to ruin everything we hold dear. The stakes are high in this battle.
It’s why we need to have the spirit and tenacity of Shoichi Yokoi. We can’t surrender. We can’t give up. We can’t lay down. We have to stay vigilant and aware. We have to be alert to sneak attacks and the schemes of our enemy. We have to have the attitude that we will never surrender to an enemy who wants to kill everything about us.
Paul, in Philippians 3, shares this “never surrender” attitude. We are called to press on. We are called to strive and fight for victory. We are called to stop looking at the past and our mistakes and failures and instead keep our eyes on the prize that lies ahead. We keep on fighting, pressing and moving forward. The battle will be long and painful and at times we will get discouraged, but we will never give up. Surrender isn’t an option for us.
Soichi Yokoi never gave up. He didn’t stop fighting. Let’s keep fighting as well. The victory will well be worth the struggle. Don’t stop moving forward. Never surrender.