JUST AS I AM

JUST AS I AM

I cannot even imagine how many times I have sung this song as an invitation, with the lost and the found. In the past I have accompanied congregations young and old as we sang this as a song of dedication to the Lord. We have sit alongside, bank robbers, thieves, men who in self-defense had taken other people’s lives and people who had at one time been so vile I cannot even attempt to tell their stories. In the past I have listened to women who have lived lives as checkered, as the woman at the well, who would have sold their soul for a meal. It has been my joy to see hearts moved by the Good News, walk away from the Bad News of their bankrupt lives, they had spent like a tale that was told. Gripped by conviction they had come to the end of themselves and had made Christ their choice, never to return to the “R” Rated story of their past. They made it personal and it became their song of freedom. But just where did this story begin.

I came from a girl who had a special touch in Brighton, England (1789-1871). It was born in the heart of Charlotte Elliot who had a testimony of discomfort and pain, both mentally and physically.

Hers was the peculiar pain of a seeming uselessness in her life while the circle around her was full of un-resting services for God. Such a time of trial marked the year 1834, when she was forty-five years old, and living in Westfield Lodge, Brighton, U.K. Charlotte was living at a special school for women called St. Mary’s Hall school designed to give the daughters of ministers, higher education at a nominal cost. It was during a busy time, when a bazaar was being held to aid in the expenses of the school. Westfield Lodge was astir; every member of the large circle was occupied morning and night in the preparations, with the one exception of the ailing sister Charlotte was as full of eager interest as any of them, (but physically fit for nothing).

The night before the bazaar she was kept awake by distressing thoughts of her apparent uselessness; and these thoughts passed by a transition easy to imagine — into a spiritual conflict, till she questioned the reality of her whole spiritual life, and wondered whether it were anything better than an illusion of the emotions, an illusion ready to be sorrowfully dissolved. The next day, the busy day of the bazaar she lay upon her sofa. The troubles of the night came back upon her with such force that she felt they must be met and conquered in the grace of God. She gathered up in her soul the great certainties, not of her emotions, but of her salvation: her Lord, His power, His promise. And taking pen and paper from the table she deliberately set down in writing, for her own comfort, (THE FORMULA OF HER FAITH).

From her heart she was always able to express the depths of her feelings and thoughts in verse. So in verse she restated to herself the gospel of pardon, peace, and heaven. (borrowed from Louis Benson, Studies of Familiar Hymns, Second Series, 201-202) Within a matter of years Ms. Elliott had the hymn published in The Invalid’s Hymn Book, and from there it spread and gained in popularity.

Just as I am – without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
– O Lamb of God, I come!
Just as I am – and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
– O Lamb of God, I come!
Just as I am – though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fighting and fears within, without,
– O Lamb of God, I come!
Just as I am – poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need, in Thee to find,
– O Lamb of God, I come!
Just as I am – Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
– O Lamb of God, I come!
Just as I am – Thy love unknown
has broken every barrier down;
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
– O Lamb of God, I come!
Just as I am – of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
– O Lamb of God, I come!

I woke up this morning thinking about this hymn and went looking for the back-story behind why and how it was written, and I found a treasure. Now when we know the story of Charlotte Elliot we can appreciate every verse so much more. Today, I wrote this letter I thought of this familiar
scripture “The lame shall take the prey.”

We each have an important part to play in His Kingdom and each member is singularly important to the overall function and effectiveness of the body of Christ. Thank you for being a part of all that we are and all that we do in the Mighty Name of Jesus. We are called to be 100 % Christians.
In 1st Corinthians 10:31, Paul wrote:
“Whatever you may do, do all for the honor and glory of God.”

Thank you for the privilege of being a part of our church family.

Just as I am, in quest of souls and the building of the Kingdom of God,

Pastor Cleddie and GayNell Keith

Cleddie Keith