God accepts me ‘Just as I Am’ | Faith | The Press and Standard

by | March 25, 2018 5:00 am

Last Updated: March 21, 2018 at 12:55 pm

“Just as I Am” is another one of my favorite hymns. I first heard it growing up in Wesley United Methodist Church here in Walterboro. Then in later years, when my maternal grandmother, the late Lela Daniels Gelzer, and my mother, the late Rev. Dr. Evelyn Gelzer Stevens, would watch “The Billy Graham Crusades,” I often watched it with them and noticed that he would frequently use this hymn as an invitation for souls to come to Christ.
I love the music, and the lyrics are most apropos to extend an invitation to Christian discipleship. Revelation 3:20 (KJV) says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Notice that the Word says, “Any man.” It does not specify any particular person; therefore, Christ’s invitation is extended to all, no matter your condition, situation, race, color, origin, nationality, and so on.
All of us are given that chance, so it is up to us to accept or refuse it.
Further, Christ does not force Himself on us. Romans 10:13 (KJV) states, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Here again, there is no specification of any man who can be saved; it says, “Whosoever.”
If you have been keeping up with my column, you know that whenever the topic of my article is focused on a particular hymn or song, I discuss the background of it once I have done the research.
I feel that knowing the background will give the meaning more of a personal touch with which many can identify.
According to Robert J. Morgan’s “Then Sings My Soul,” a woman by the name of Charlotte Elliott of Brighton, England, was in very poor health and had a disability. As a result, she became very bitter and blamed God for her plight.
On May 9, 1822, Dr. Cesar Malan, a Swiss minister, visited the Elliott home for dinner, hoping to get through to Charlotte. Needless to say, she had a violent outburst, ranting against God to the point that her family was so embarrassed that they left the room.
Left alone in the room with Charlotte, Dr. Malan explained that she was clinging to hate and anger against God because she had nothing else in the world to which she could cling. Then she asked him what his cure was. Patiently, he answered, “The faith you are trying to despise.”
Charlotte began to tone it down some as they continued to talk and talk. She finally asked the minister what would she need to do in order to share the peace and joy that he possessed.
Dr. Malan told Charlotte, “You would give yourself to God just as you are now, with your fighting and fears, hates and loves, pride and shame.”
Charlotte’s response to Dr. Malan was, “I would come to God just as I am? Is that right?”
Her heart was changed that day, and she came to God just as she was.
Years later after her death, her brother, a minister, found a poem that she had written that was printed and sold across England. That poem has since become the most famous invitational hymn in history, “Just as I Am.”
What a story behind this hymn!
Of the five stanzas that I know of this hymn, the third one resonates with me the most: “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!”
This stanza shows me just how God looks at the heart of man, not his circumstances, and is standing there with His arms wide open to receive whomever wants to turn his or her life over to Him. I see why Charlotte Elliott would have included this stanza in her poem.
Have a wonderfully blessed week, and never leave home without Him!

(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at abrightcolumn@lowcountry.com)

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