Summary: 50-DAY SPIRITUAL ADVENTURE - MARY If we are going to see our dreams become a reality then we have to learn to STEP OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONES!

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A nation that has suffered under Saddam Hussain’s oppressive hand is getting its first taste of freedom; people are beginning to dream again. Over the last few weeks we have been watching American and coalition forces strive to bring freedom to the Iraqi people. By air and land the Republican Guard and Iraqi soldiers have been put down; the regime of Saddam Hussain is beginning to fall.

In the last few days we have been hearing about Iraqi soldiers and Republican Guard members who have seemingly disappeared either going into hiding or regrouping with other units. Uniforms and arms have been abandoned. When and where these troups will reappear no one knows for sure.

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? Imprisoned, not by an invading army, not by a cruel dictator, but held captive by the fear within your mind.

Many of us may have a hard time imagining what it would be like to live our lives filled with that kind of fear, yet how many of us live with a different kind of fear, the fear of change? We often live in a different type of prison, one of our own making, a padded cell called our COMFORT ZONE.

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