Story Behind The Song – “Just As I Am”

I was baptized on October 31st, 1971.  I don’t recall a lot about the day, but I do remember a few things.  I remember that morning before service when my parents told the minister that I would like to come forward, he gave me a hug.  I remember that my dad baptized me.  And I remember walking down the center aisle of the church to the invitation hymn, “Just As I Am”.

What I do remember very vividly was the previous Sunday.  One of my best friends went forward to accept Christ, and her dad went with her.  He knew me well, and he knew this decision had been on my heart.  As the singing continued, he kept looking back at me, his eyes pleading with me to come forward.  In my heart I wanted to make that decision, but my feet wouldn’t move.   My head was giving me all kinds of reasons for why I could not come just as I was.

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Born in London, England on March 18, 1789, Charlotte Elliott was a very popular and gifted portrait artist and also made a living as a comedy writer.  In her early thirties, she contracted a serious illness that caused her to suffer deep exhaustion and pain every day of her life, and left her very depressed.

A well-known Swiss evangelist, Dr. Caesar Malan, came to visit Charlotte. Sensing her depression, Dr. Malan asked Charlotte if she knew Christ as her Savior.  Charlotte bristled at the question, and said she would rather not talk about it.  Dr. Malan apologized for any offense that he had caused.

For Charlotte, this was a turning point.  She could not get Dr. Malan’s question out of her head.  She met the doctor again 3 weeks later, and she told him that ever since he spoke to her, she had been trying to find Jesus, but she felt she had to clean up her life before she could become a Christian.  “You have nothing of merit to bring to God. You must come just as you are,” replied Dr. Malan.  With joy in her heart, Charlotte Elliott accepted Christ that day.

Approximately 14 years later, Charlotte’s brother was raising funds for a school for the daughters of clergymen – St. Mary’s Hall.  Because of her debilitating illness, Charlotte could not help out, and she felt useless.  As she thought about her situation, she remembered Dr. Malan’s words, and she decided to write a song for others who were experiencing situations the same as hers.  The words she wrote became one of the greatest soul-winning songs in the history of hymns.

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.

Many stories are told about the people whose lives were changed by Charlotte’s words.  Billy Graham used it as the invitation at his crusades.  And before Charlotte died, she learned that copies of her poem were being sold, and the money was being donated to St. Mary’s Hall, the very mission she thought she could not help.

In her lifetime, Charlotte wrote over 150 hymns.  She died on September 22, 1871 at the age of 82, never having recovered from the illness that plagued her for most of her life.  After she died, more than a thousand letters were found in her possession, written by people telling her how much her hymn had touched their lives.

Charlotte wrote this simple hymn, and it has been used to touch the hearts of millions of people, who, like Charlotte, have responded to the invitation to come ‘just as they are.’

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Maybe today your heart is telling you to accept Jesus, but your head is giving you all kinds of reasons why you have to wait.  Maybe you think you need to fix a few things first — you need to make yourself more presentable, or you’ve got some habits you need to put a stop to.  The good news is, you don’t have to do any of that.  God is amazing, gracious and loving.  Romans 5:8 says  “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Did you catch that?  While we were still sinners …..  God’s gift of salvation is free.  You don’t have to wash up, clean up, or dress up to accept it.  All you have to do is say YES.  Come as you are.


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