A Little Thing

hartland_point(t60aq_console)old3During World War II, much of the battle on the high seas was determined by the submarine activity going on below the waves. Sonar operators were vital to the safety of the sub and the ships sailing above them. At one point in the war, this equipment was rendered useless, and the Navy was desperate to discover what was causing the massive interference problem.

It seemed as if the enemy had finally devised something that was causing the sonar equipment aboard US vessels to be rendered useless. There was so much interference that the military could not track the activity of enemy subs, and that left the navy fleet on the surface, virtually unprotected during a critical portion of the war.  The problem was so great that the Navy put together a team of experts to unravel what was going on. They had no idea what was causing massive waves of static in specific, large portions of the ocean.

After months of research, the military still had no solution. In desperation they decided to turn to a world-famous marine biologist to see if he could come up with an answer to this difficult problem. At first he was stumped, and so he took some time off just to get away from the problem. After a few days he remembered some research he had read in the past. It was an article on a tiny crustacean, a shrimp about an inch long, with one enlarged claw. Apparently the shrimp clicked that claw while feeding. After checking out the areas of interference in the ocean, he discovered that millions upon millions of these tiny creatures were indeed gathered in the exact locations of the impenetrable sonar interference. It was the clicking of each tiny claw that was rendering the US Navy’s sonar totally useless.

This may have solved the mystery, but it did not solve the Navy’s problem. How would they ever be able to get rid of tens of millions of shrimp in the open ocean, in order to protect the US fleet? It was the marine biologist who, once again, came up with an ingenious solution that the Navy thought was brilliant. He told the Navy Commanders to actually use the shrimp as a kind of sonar camouflage. In other words, rather than eliminate the shrimp, take advantage of the noise they made. Bring the subs into the center of the noise, and just sit there. The clicking noise they made would actually hide the subs. The Biologist reasoned if the noise interfered with the US sonar, it would do the same with the sonar of the enemy, which was less sophisticated.

This strategy worked way beyond their expectations. As US subs sat silently and floated in the center of millions of tiny clicking shrimp, the noise the shrimp made prevented them from being spotted by enemy sonar.  Enemy subs and ships were baffled by the new US “technology” as they were caught off guard time and time again. Because of this strategy, shipping lanes were opened, destroyers and aircraft carriers were protected, and the advantage the US gained by this simple tactic changed the outcome of World War II.

Sometimes your biggest problem also holds the exact solution you have been looking for. If you have a mindset to consider another way of seeing things, you can find it. Those who study the brain know of a process called neuro-plasticity. This is the ability of the brain to regroup and reorganize thought patterns. To do this, the brain often needs to disengage from the problem at hand for a while, in order to solve it. Alternatives are always present in any situation, but your brain can’t find them while it is focused on one way of thinking. This means, once we get in a rut, we can’t think outside that mental pathway. Getting away from things, relaxing and just disengaging for a season, often frees up our brain to consider other, more inventive, solutions.

In the business world, old school mentors often tell those they are developing to double down, burn the midnight oil, try harder and just press through when a solution is needed. Today, researchers know that this kind of work ethic simply smothers creativity, and it tends to frustrate and burn people out. Heart attacks, mental distress, job dissatisfaction, sick days and emotional fatigue are all on the rise. Why? Because people are pushed to find an answer, rather than given the time to let their brains relax so they can find an inventive solution.

The value of rest has been known for thousands of years. In the Bible God speaks to this  end and says; “Be still and know that I am God”, and “My presence shall go with you and I will give you rest”. In fact, the Jews were commanded to give their land a year of rest every 7 years, so it would remain productive. Isaiah 30:15 says “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength”. God has laid out for all to see that repentance, rest, quietness and trust is where we can find our strength and answers. Why is it that we foolishly think we can now find these things some other way?

If you are baffled by life’s problems, perhaps it is time to consider them as nothing more than those little “shrimp”. What is floating in the sea of your life, causing pain, distraction and problems, also holds the answer you are looking for. You simply need to back up, and get a fresh perspective.  Find a quiet place to relax, and let your brain and spirit rest. Let your mind, your soul and your spirit get refreshed in the Lord. Nothing is so pressing that it should take your life over, and rob you of your peace of mind. Why not take the time to get still before God, and let that marvelous brain He gave you, do what it does best. In that quiet place, He will speak His words of  life to your inner man, and everything will be just fine.

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