Naoyoshi diligently strove to be the best in his field his entire life and a few months before these upcoming, life changing, events occurred he had thought that plateau was reached when he was appointed the Director of one of the largest Nuclear Reactors in Japan.

“Why do I feel so empty?” he thought.

When out of nowhere he received a call from an old school friend that would eventually answer this question and change his life forever. The long time friends made plans to get together to catch up on the past twenty years. Finally after rearranging schedules they met and to Naoyoshi's dismay his friend Ikeda was a pastor and a follower of Jesus Christ.

“What did I get myself into?” he thought.

It was very obvious after spending a short time together that Ikeda was still the same caring person that had given him a listening ear and never spoke empty words whenever called upon. And, that was quite often as Naoyoshi struggled in his early years to build a firm foundation to build his career on. His friend, Ikeda, had a joy and passion for life that was infectious and drew you to him.

Naoyoshi thought, “If I could only find that same kind of peace.”

The two friends continued to meet on a fairly regular basis over the next few months with much discouragement from Naoyoshi's family and friends. But, he knew deep inside that his high position didn't fill the void he was experiencing and somehow Ikeda knew the elusive answer to the question he'd searched for his entire life. How to be happy and live a fulfilling life outside the confines of his own intellect.

One day they met in Tachikawa where they both grew up and as they were chatting. Ikeda said, “Do you believe this Jesus I serve can fill that emptiness we've talked about all these months?”

Naoyoshi teared up as he responded, “I know this Jesus is the answer, but how could He love me as much as you have said when I've scoffed his very existence my whole life?”

Ikeda, embracing his friend, led him to Christ and over the next year they met every few weeks. Naoyoshi grew in the Lord and for the first time in his life had an unspeakable joy and peace regardless of the turmoil and pressures that surrounded him.

Then without much warning. As quickly, as the words spilled from his mouth when he asked Jesus to be the Lord of his life. An earthquake, tsunami and a chain reaction of nuclear reactor meltdowns brought his homeland to their knees. They would recover from the quakes and tsunami but a meltdown could have catastrophic repercussions if Naoyoshi and his team couldn't restore electrical power to get cooling water inside the reactor.

Even though the task before them was certainly a suicide mission in the eyes of their peers and the rest of the world. Naoyoshi remembered in Daniel 3: 22-25 that there was a fourth person in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He knew just because he didn't feel the presence of God, didn't mean He wasn't there. And, as he continued to move in faith that God would go before him and prepare his way.

His love for God and to save his country drove him to enter the firey furnace laid before him with the mindset. “If I perish, then I perish...”

My thoughts as I set back with the rest of world watching the events unfold in Japan in catastrophic proportions were,"nothing, but nothing takes our God by surprise and He will never leave us or forsake us as we walk in obedience and are led by His Spirit. Naoyoshi you were born for such a time as this my brother."

Michael W. Cochran


If I Must Perish

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