Chaplain’s Corner: XCVIV

“Reliance on God vs Self Reliance”

During WWII, America’s Office of Strategic Services – the precursor to the CIA – was assigned the task of devising subversive ways to help defeat Japan.  Some of the OSS’s initiatives could best be described as non- traditional.

More than two million dollars were invested in development of the “bat bomb.”  Project managers hoped to drop thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats over Japanese cities.  Each bat would be toting a small incendiary device equipped with a timer.  The bats would hopefully roost under the eaves of Japanese homes.  The designated time devices would then ignite thousands of fires.  The operation was never given final approval much to the relief of the bats.

The OSS has better luck with Operation Magic.  Teams of codebreakers worked tirelessly to monitor, intercept and translate encrypted Japanese messages.  Their success became a key component of the Allied Victory in the Pacific theater.  In April 1942, decryption efforts revealed that Japanese military planners were fixated on a place called “AF.”  That was useful information-if anyone could figure out what “AF” meant.

Possibilities included Guam, Seattle, Alaska or Midway, a tiny coral atoll in the middle of the Pacific about 1,300 miles northwest of Hawaii.  The leader of the codebreaking effort, Captain Joe Rochefort, had his money on Midway.  So he devised a trick but he needed some hard evidence.  Radio operators at Midway were instructed to send out a phony message.  The Midway dispatcher reported the island’s water supply was running low.  A few hours later, US codebreakers intercepted and translated a Japanese message that “AF” is running low on water.  Gotcha!

When Japan’s primary fleet of more than 200 vessels attacked Midway on June 4th, 1942, the American fleet was waiting in ambush.  All four Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk–a loss from which the Imperial Navy never recovered.  The Japanese believed the American’s would never be able to master the nuances of the Japanese language.  “That will never happen to us,” they said to themselves.  But it did.  Japan’s leaders failed to realize that American codebreakers had actually cracked their “unbreakable” code.

Over confidence isn’t merely a threat to nations.  Spiritual hubris is one of the great enemies of the soul.

We see other people crash and burn.  They cheat on crucial relationships, squander once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and throw away hard earned reputations because of decisions that defy common sense.  We think:  “But that will never happen to me.”  Yes it will happen to you–unless you decide to walk away from any behavior that you know is at odds with God’s intentions for your life.

Self-reliance works only some of the time.  When we decide to place our lives under God’s reliance and trust God with everything then we begin to see God is at work connecting the dot of our lives.

May God give us eyes to see how God is in the middle of our stories even as we are living them–for that is the code that brings meaning and purpose to all of life!



Ron Naylor, Chaplain