In 2020, I was obsessed with spiritual experiences. I use the word obsessed because it perfectly captures what that was. I wanted to see Jesus, no, not in death, face to face, in my room. I listened to sermon after sermon, and attended conference after conference, seeking that divine encounter with God. I was certain that was what I needed for my music ministry to be impactful. I sought those intense emotional experiences, the loud prayers…Every morning when I awoke early to pray, it wasn’t only for the sake of prayer; I wanted to experience something extraordinary.
I was sure that if I did this long enough, screamed out long enough, spoke in tongues long enough, and prayed long enough, my ministry would become ‘impactful’. That if I held the microphone, the sick would be healed immediately, the blind would see, and the cripple would begin walking…I wanted my ministry to be powerful in the way that I had been taught to understand the word “powerful.” I desired to live in such a way that people could ‘smell’ God in me.
I aspired to be like Kathryn Khulman as well. I even started thinking about how I would wear long dresses like her and made patterns in my journal. I was going to be the African-Kenyan girl that moved like Kathryn Khulman…I was going to walk in miracles, power, and immense authority, and everyone on the globe would know who I was! I was going to be great! All I needed was enough faith.
I considered myself everything but sinful, needy, or weak. I felt myself as powerful, strong, and mighty…I saw myself as a god. I kept expecting God to do something spectacular as if there was anything He could do greater than what He had done for me through His Son, Jesus Christ.
I got caught chasing after something God had already done.
In my perspective, God making me powerful would help draw people to Himself. You understand? If I’m singing and someone yells, ‘I can see!’ ‘I see!’ Wouldn’t people now accept that God is a healer? Wouldn’t it surprise everyone if, during worship, someone received a phone call informing them that their deceased relative had risen? Wouldn’t that convict sinners?
As if I considered the Bible to be folklore. As if all of the healing stories documented within didn’t truly happen, and I needed them to happen now so that I and others could believe them.
When I quit my work in 2022, I had severe anxiety. I was concerned about my finances, my career…I was concerned that I wouldn’t be as good now that I wasn’t on the radio. I stopped praying. I didn’t even go to church. I spend my Sundays at home, sometimes listening to sermons, sometimes just watching Netflix and listening to a lot of NF.
However, it was during that time that I discovered the simplicity of prayer. That I didn’t need to cry or speak in tongues, that I didn’t even need to feel anything. So I began to say simple prayers. ‘God, I’m so confused, I hate being here, I’m so upset that you didn’t at least warn me this would end this soon, what next? I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do?”
Those were the days when my husband, then fiance, would hug me and pray for me while listening to Hillsong Young and Free. His prayers would be simple yet encouraging. They would tell me to be honest with God about where I was and how I was feeling. That it wasn’t wrong, that it wasn’t complaining, and that God wasn’t scared of my questions.
That’s how I went back into praying: with simple, ordinary prayers.
I met a group of believers near the end of 2022 who were considerably different from where I’d grown up. I was fascinated by how the leader went from verse to verse discussing the Gospel of John the first time I attended their bible study, explaining the Scriptures for what they were saying, not what he thought.
When I first started reading the Bible this way, one of the first verses that shocked me was Philippians 4:13, which I had heard virtually my whole life. The realization that the context was truly contentment blew my mind!
The problem with a ‘lacking’ gospel is that it instils in us a desire to be great by human standards, which we already have. It instils in us the drive to thrive here on Earth. Isn’t nearly everybody hungry in some way for power, status or wealth? Is there anyone struggling with too much contentment?
The true Gospel does not teach you how much you need to do or become; rather, it tells you how much has already been done for you and who you have already become- a child of God, sealed by the Holy Spirit as a sign that you belong. What an honour to be called a child of God!
The Gospel being good news means that there was bad news from which it came to save us. The bad news isn’t that we were so poor that we needed to be rich, or that we were so sick that we needed to be healed. If that was the awful news that Christ came to free us from, there should be no poor believers and no believers dying from disease…And, given that this occurs on a daily basis, such a claim would make God a liar.
The bad news is that we, as humans, are extremely sinful; even at our finest, we are not righteous enough for a holy God. Yes, even your favourite preacher is guilty in the eyes of God. God cannot overlook sin, thus he must condemn us for our sins, and we must pay the price. But the wonderful news is that Jesus paid for it all! Jesus delivered us from the wrath of God! What incredible love!
The Gospel is the Good News of what God has done through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to reconcile us sinners to Himself through repentance, and accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. It’s right there in John 3:16, He came so that we may have eternal life, and not eternal damnation!
For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. How much more then, since we have now been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. And not only that, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation.
If this message seems basic, simple or ordinary to you, then you have not properly considered the price you could have paid if Jesus had not died for you.
I quit chasing experiences when I grasped the magnitude of the work of the cross. Not that I don’t want to see miracles happen, but miracles dim in glory compared to my Lord Jesus Christ. (But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord- Philippians 3.) God has done more for me than I would ever ask for. I stopped chasing ‘power’ when I stopped seeing myself as the hero of bible stories…I’m not Paul the Apostle, I’m not Elijah, I’m not Deborah…their stories are written for my learning and encouragement. I’m Yvonne, sinful, weak, in need of a Saviour. I don’t deserve to be lifted, promoted or exalted, I deserve God’s wrath.
For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one who does it, but it is the sin that lives in me.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7).