Just As I am

JUST AS I AM
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, 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, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, 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, 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, I come.

Just as I am, thy love unknown
hath broken every barrier down;
now, to be thine, yea thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Probably one of the most, if not, the most famous invitation hymn there is (at least the first verse of this song).  I have fond memories of this song from revival night services at my childhood church growing up.  It truly is a classic hymn, and one that I hope never goes away from our church services.

The story behind this hymn is an interesting one.  Charlotte Elliott struggled most of her life with sin and how to be forgiven from sin.  She would talk to religious leaders and pastors, and many would counsel her to pray more, study the Bible more, do more noble deeds, and resolve to “do better.”  (Come to think of it, that is what my mother has told me for the last 43 years of my life).  This advice, however, did not resolve the struggle with sin in her life.  She also struggled with health issues.  Her physical disability had hardened her heart to the point where she was quoted as saying “If God loved me, He would not have treated me this way.”

One evening, a Swiss minister, Dr. Cesar Malan, came and visited Ms. Elliott and her family.  During the visit, Ms. Elliott lost her temper, and so embarrassed her family to the point that they left the room and left her alone with Dr. Malan.  Dr. Malan asked her some poignant questions about the hate and anger she had in her heart.  He told her that she had become sour, bitter, and resentful.   Ms. Elliott asked him what his “cure” was for this kind of bitterness.  He told her the cure was the faith that she was trying so hard to despise.  After a long conversation, she finally reached her wit’s end, and asked him “If I wanted to become a Christian…what would I do?”  Dr. Malan wisely responded, “You would give yourself to God just as you are now, with your fightings and fears, hates and loves, pride and shame.”  She responded “I would come to God just as I am?  Is that right?”   Her conversion was a powerful one, and from this encounter with Dr. Malan and with Christ, she was inspired to write the words of this song.  She lived to be 82 years old and eventually wrote over 150 hymns.

Couple of comments on the lyrics:

*
“To rid my soul of one dark blot” – I get the mental picture of a clean piece of paper, and an ink blotter.  Each time we sin, a drop of ink falls to the page.  The sin of slothfulness – one drop.  The sin of idleness – one drop.  Sins we commit by how we use our tongue.  Sins of omission and sins of commission.  Each time we sin, one more drop on the page.  Eventually, our sin becomes, as the author describes, “one dark blot.”  The sin is ugly.  It fills the page.  One sin leads into another, and eventually the entire page is filled with these sins.  But praise the Lord, there is one that can rid our soul of that dark blot.  That can wash us and make us clean, that can make us whiter than snow. That one challenge that never goes, He can get rid of it.
*
“Fightings and fears, within, without” – Have you ever noticed that internal fightings and fears are many times more challenging than external fightings and fears?  The worries and internal turmoil that we go through often exceed what we might experience from external sources.  But the great thing about the Lord is that He is more than able to calm the internal fightings just as He can conquer our external foes.  David, a man after God’s own heart, had to fight an external enemy – a man who was over 2 meters tall.  But David also battled lust and the pain and agony that came from putting Uriah into a place where he eventually lost his life.  David’s testimony, however, was that God was able to help him in both of those challenging situations, and bring him through.

The minister in this particular hymn story was wise beyond measure.  He had a true understanding of sin and salvation – of repentance and redemption

Dr. Cesar Malan, the friend of Charlotte Elliott, was  able to kindly, gently, but directly speak truth into Charlotte Elliott’s life.  He was available, ready to combine his theological training and the truth of Scripture, with a reliance on the Holy Spirit to “whisper” to Charlotte and to bring her to a point where she could accept Christ as her personal savior.  He was able to convince her that she had her order of priorities out of whack.  He convinced her that God would take her anger, bitterness, fightings and strivings, and that He would love and accept her anyway.  Then after she repented, He would slowly but surely remove those things from her life through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

So, can I ask you – are you a “God whisperer?”  Are you one who is available to be used by the Lord to speak truth into someone’s life?  Are you knowledgeable enough about the Word of God to use it as an encouragement to others?  Are you relying on the Holy Spirit to give you the words to say in tough situations?  Do you recognize that God can use you – just as you are, to minister to a lost and dying world?

I want to close with “The Message” version of I Thessalonians 2:9-12.  I think it provides a great picture of a “God whisperer.”

You remember us in those days, friends, working our fingers to the bone, up half the night, moonlighting so you wouldn’t have the burden of supporting us while we proclaimed God’s Message to you. You saw with your own eyes how discreet and courteous we were among you, with keen sensitivity to you as fellow believers. And God knows we weren’t freeloaders! You experienced it all firsthand. With each of you we were like a father with his child, holding your hand, whispering encouragement, showing you step-by-step how to live well before God, who called us into his own kingdom, into this delightful life.

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