Just As I Am

Posted on Dec 20, 2022 by Jenny Bender

The name Charlotte Elliott might not ring a bell, but you probably know who she is and don’t even realize it. Charlotte was a gifted writer and poet in the 1700s. When she was only 30 years old, she developed an illness that left her unable to walk. She slipped into severe depression and was so distraught over her disability that she completely stopped writing poetry, which had once brought so much joy to herself and others. In despair, Charlotte had become so miserable and irritable that even her close circle of friends no longer wanted to be around her.

Following her illness, a minister visited Charlotte and encouraged her to look beyond her problem and instead, focus on God and the plans for GOOD that He had for her life, even in the face of the illness that had taken away her ability to walk. Charlotte gave her heart to Jesus that day. She committed her heart and her creativity to His service, and began to write songs and poetry once again. She never regained the ability to walk, but she trusted that God could and would turn it into something for her good and His glory – and He did. In 1835, Charlotte penned these iconic words: “Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me. And that Thou bidst me, ‘come to Me,’ oh Lamb of God, I come…just as I am.”

Fast forward 161 years, to 1996. Tears were running down my face as I walked toward the field at Billy Graham’s Crusade at the Panthers Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Just As I Am” played over and over, as thousands responded to Reverend Graham’s invitation to accept Jesus as their Savior. I was one of them. I’ll never forget the song that became the soundtrack to so many salvations that night (and countless others, as Billy Graham had it played at crusades throughout his decades-long ministry.)

Charlotte Elliott, like so many of us when troubles come, had a hard time seeing past her problems and the setbacks that she had been dealt. Some of those obstacles seem so insurmountable that it’s hard to imagine any good coming from them. When that happens, it’s easy to think, “What’s the use in going on?” Can you just imagine how many thousands – even millions – of hearts have been softened to the love of Jesus after hearing “Just As I Am?” What if Charlotte Elliott had given up when circumstances seemed unendurable? What if she wouldn’t have trusted God to turn her tragedy into a testimony?

We’re going to have problems and troubles in this world; Jesus told us we would. (John 16:33) But, just two books later in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul, who himself was no stranger to suffering and troubles, encouraged us with the promise that when we love God and are called according to HIS purpose – that is, to set aside our own plans and our own will and trust God’s instead – He will work ALL of it – yes, even the awful – together for good! (Romans 8:28)

What problems are you facing? What struggles have you stuck in depression and despair? Jesus not only sees and knows about everything you’re going through; he cares about EVERYTHING you’re going through. (2 Peter 5:7) And before your struggle even started, He already had a plan to work it together for your good! Rejoice in that!

Comments (1)

  1. Melody Austin:
    Dec 22, 2022 at 09:15 PM

    Thank you for that. I needed it more than you know! I also walked an isle many years ago, in 1972 to "Just as I am". To this day I get choked up any time I hear it. I'm so grateful for your music ministry at WAFJ and all the special words shared.
    Merry Christmas

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