2012 has been an awesome year! I was blessed to enjoy excellent health, share life with my beautiful wife of 28 years and marvel at our three (3) young adult children as we watch them individually mature.
I finally stepped out on faith and wrote a thought provoking book which will change the way some people think about politics and religion and am excited about the tremendous growth in our church congregation.
Another high point of the year was the extensive travel both in and outside of the United States. Travel in general tends to open the mind to new horizons but none did more for me than my trip to Indonesia. And to my amazement, I only discovered what I had learned progressively, after the trip was over.
In summary, I learned not to think against what I don’t understand. All too often, our existing paradigm dominates the internal processing we’ve adopted which in turn shields us from growth. Many times we live life looking like we’re progressing, when in fact our affinity with pretense blocks the entrance of truth.
In this country we have learned to sleep-walk while functioning like we’re fully awake. This is what I discovered in Surabaya, Indonesia where I found out just how asleep I was as an American Christian. The experience caused me to evaluate how I systematically “Look for the Shore” when faced with the unfamiliar.
Indonesians are quite friendly as a people, so much so it’s almost unbelievable. I even asked a person there, “Is everyone always like this?” The mix of opulence and urban life coexisted within mere yards of each other. This too was unusual in my grid-like way of thinking.
Furthermore, their dedication to Jesus outdistanced American loyalty to Christ at staggering levels, and this was taking place in a Muslim country. There was plenty of fashion in the malls, along with the sounds of hip-hop and pop music, but for obvious reasons there were no battles over political issues.
On automatic, I tried to access what I was observing through the lens of my past but had nothing with which to compare. My training taught me to not speak against the formation of something in development, so each visual download got filed away for review at a later time.
I badly wanted sleep when the schedule would permit, craving a return to a sense of normalcy, but my internal time clock was still 11 hours behind in my United States home and God kept expanding His desire for my compliance. My mind would finally begin to accept that nothing was wrong although little made sense and that the strangeness was part of the process.
The source of my dilemma was that I didn’t know just how closely my life was stuck to the shore. I was being challenged to grow beyond my normal and the things I had already mastered. Metaphorically speaking, it seemed that I was dropped off in the ocean and the natural inclination was to look for the shore. Dr. James O. Davis Co-Founder of Billion Soul Network used those words to describe the experience he had invited me into.
Everything was different in Indonesia, the worship, the language, the foods, the atmosphere, the traffic flow, the sounds at 3:00 a.m. and the size of the 35,000 seat church auditorium we frequented. The differences were not derived from the lack of travel. I’ve been to several countries around the world.
This was different on another plane, because I learned things about me; I found out that I look for the shore. Before this, I thought I was pretty adventurous, pliable and open to change, but when I got in touch with what I was really thinking, I saw a man of convenience and a person who was systematically distracted.
Learning takes place on different levels and in many stages. The largest gap we face in our learning, is found in the space between what we know…and what we do. Change keeps us firmly fixed in the seat of knowledge, politely separated from what we know and what we do.
Unfortunately, most people resist change, live in denial and settle. As a cheap substitute for change, many simply rehearse what they already know and repeat the same grade for another 12 months. This pattern of behavior is normal to distracted individuals, as the preference for the symbols of change, out weigh the ernest desire for personal growth. I was shocked when I realized that was me.
At the end of the day, I had to trust God and give Him permission to continue the work of developing Christ-likeness within me. Most of what He was doing, is doing, is well under the radar. As He answers our prayers, His way, the answer may not look like what we asked for; here again, God must be trusted. And as we resist memorializing our ways into granite monuments, God will more easily build something of value in us.
There is a reason our bodies and the earth are 75% water and 25% solid. The hint is found in the 3-fold nature of water. H2O is 2 parts Hydrogen, 1 part Oxygen. We are 2 parts Spirit, 1 part flesh. We have flesh so that we can live here. The Oxygen part is symbolic of the Spirit of God whose breath gives us life.
And like this clear liquid, we can be hard as ice at times, mysterious as vapor and refreshing as water. Whatever part God calls for, we should avail ourselves for His use. Growth will occur when He calls for our base nature to change, producing the life we’ve always wanted.
I am so thankful for God’s ways, for what He is teaching us and for the future. My prayer is that those who call Him Lord will allow His influence to expand even more in the upcoming year. Be sure to have a Happy New Year and check us out at www.KingdomDominionChurch.com!
Pastor James Tibbs is a Guest Blogger answering our annual question “What Have You Learned This Year?” Please check him out on www.KingdomDominionChurch.com
Ressurrection Graves is a child sexual abuse expert and H.E.A.L.E.R. She is a Healer, Educator, Activist, Life Skills Expert, Empowerment Speaker, and Relationship Mentor. She speaks about her life journey and topics surrounding emotional wellness, overcoming child sexual abuse and being extraordinary. Contact her at: ressurrection (dot) wordpress (at) yahoo (dot) com or 202.717.7377.