By: Christi Grimm
Sitting on my Mom’s lap, I felt the beckoning of the Father. As a 6-year-old little girl, He was drawing me to Himself. I wanted to know Him, be baptized, and follow Jesus. Although my understanding was minimal and immature, I knew I needed a Savior. He created each of us with an innate desire of intimately connecting with Him and nothing else will do. We may not at first be able to put to words what this beckoning is but when He awakens us to His Truth, it is undeniable!
For years, my salvation was about escaping Hell. I walked through childhood and adolescence experiencing painful circumstances, traumatic events, and feelings of abandonment. “If I can just get through this life, I’ll be able to see and experience Him one day in Heaven,” I thought. I knew God was “there”, however, He didn’t seem “here.” My relationship with the Father was immature: I couldn’t recognize His presence, I didn’t know His Voice, and didn’t see His Power in my walk. However, I was learning Bible stories, memorizing scripture, and was loved by a special church family. These years of a young relationship with God were not wasted; He was using this time to teach me. As I moved into my teens, I attended church regularly, continued to learn about the Bible, and served where needed. Although it seemed I was doing all the right things, it was just not enough.
I found myself 19, pregnant, and unmarried. I was living life recklessly-trying out the things that are supposed to be fun and freeing. Although I had grown up in the church, it had become very easy to leave all the knowledge I had learned because I had not allowed it to penetrate my heart. You can serve, read, and attend all the services you want, but that is not what brings intimacy and transformation. I was more unhappy, miserable, and empty than an unsaved person. That beckoning I had experienced as a 6-year-old little girl was still there; He was calling to me. Always calling, always urging me to come closer. I needed His help if I was going to become a mother and wife who truly loved Jesus and that relationship would require me to give Him my time.
My unplanned pregnancy and subsequent marriage catapulted me head first into learning what an intimate relationship looks like. It was mixed with shame from my actions, embarrassment of what people would think, and a desire to prove that I was not a failure. It had roots of being performance-driven, but He took even those weak, feeble, and mixed up efforts and worked it all for good. He saw my hearts’ sincere desires, although it was still a broken mess. He could see my repentance and my love for Him. He didn’t ask me to work all of the mess out before He revealed Himself to me. He received me broken and called me beautiful.
For the first time in my life, I CHOSE to pick up my Bible. There were rare moments scripture would come alive and I would understand something in a new way. However, I was still living as a performance-driven person and reading scripture would frequently get placed into the obligation category, yet even these efforts He did not waste. For 10 years, He continued calling to me. He was patient and gentle as I began the process of learning relationship over religious duty.
It is uncanny how a pure desire to know Jesus can turn into a duty. I was doing all of the “right” things: attending church regularly, serving tirelessly, reading scripture, and teaching my children about God. However, I still did not experience Freedom, breakthrough, joy, or healing from the past. “Christi, if you will just do more and try harder you will experience Joy”, I would tell myself. I could quote scripture, teach Sunday School, lead youth, and pray passionately and it was genuine. But I was continuing to keep God at an arm’s distance, knowing Him more in my intellect than my heart. I believed the lie that I must “do” enough for God to experience His Victory. Where was this Freedom and Joy that had eluded me?
One can only keep up with “doing enough” for so long. Eventually the body gives out, the motivation ceases, and the check list doesn’t give the sense of satisfaction that it once did. Eventually, an intimate relationship is the only thing that will suffice. I was around 30 when this began. Perhaps it was desperation that propelled me to sit with Jesus and the more I sat with Him, the more I would journal. It was not daily or even weekly, but it was there and it was a start. My heart was awakening more and more to His presence and to His Voice. Scripture was alive and passages I had read numerous times were brand new and exciting to me. But God had His work cut out for Him!
Here I was, 30 something, a professing Christian for 25+ years, yet still a baby because information doesn’t grow a Christian up, heart transformation does. As I spent more and more time with Jesus, and as He revealed more of Who He is to my heart, I began growing spiritually at a rapid pace. He strategically placed people in my life to teach me. As He showed me my identity in Him and what I am worth to Him, transformation began to occur.
It has taken years for Him to peel back the layers, heal me, and teach my heart His Truths. But it has and is still occurring. He has healed me of many hurts and He has broken chains of bondage. He has – and is still – freeing me of people-pleasing, perfectionism, and a performance-driven lifestyle. The transformation did not come because I hit a certain number of devotions read, hours served, or because I attended enough services. It occurred directly from the amount of time I spent with Jesus: first in my heart (spirit) and then in my intellect. As I have offered more of myself to Him, He has been faithful to show Himself to me, bringing about the Freedom that I so desperately wanted for so long.
He has become my best Friend, my favorite Love, the One whom I can share all of my hopes and dreams with. He encourages me, loves me, gently corrects me, and grows me. He is my God and I am His bride – both intimately connected, both intimately known. I am forever His and He is forever mine. He saw our relationship from the very beginning; my weak attempts did not scare or frustrate Him. He continued to beckon me to His side, to call me, to love me. And He beckons you. He calls you. He waits patiently for His bride to come to Him. Intimately, humbly, wholeheartedly, we can simply come.
Christi is a fifth generation Florida girl who loves the sand, the sea, and the sunshine! When she is not busy mothering her 6 children, she enjoys her garden, traveling, experiencing new cultures, and indulging in warm chocolate chip cookies while reading a good book or journaling. Christi is passionate about bringing women alongside her into a life of freedom in Christ, and does so by leading Beauty for Ashes Women’s Retreats.