“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
– 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
In 1822 there was a 33 year old woman that was as beautiful as any women could ever hope to be. Her name was Charlotte Elliott. She was the grand-daughter of Reverend Henry Venn who was well known for supporting William Wilberforce to abolish slavery.
He was also known as a man of God.
The story has it that in 1822 invited guests had the privilege to hear Charlotte recite verse and prose. Her voice was as beautiful as she was physically, and the clarity of her voice was crystal clear. Following the performance a Rev. Dr. Caesar Malan met Ms Elliott: “Young lady, your talent and beauty are a thing of wonder. But, without Jesus, you are no better than the lowest prostitute out in our streets!” Nice introduction!?
Our words have power. They can hurt and they can heal; at times they can accomplish both.
The young lady was understandably shocked and hurt by his words. At the end of the day, religion wasn’t a topic she wanted to discuss. That night Charlotte was troubled, restless, and could not sleep, she had been very ill and was bothered with severe pain. During this time of physical pain, emotional hurt and spiritual darkness Ms Elliott knelt beside her bed and prayed.
It was during this time Charlotte realized the depth of her pride and her alienation from God.
A few weeks later, she saw Dr. Malan and shared with him her desire to come to Christ; “I would like to come to Christ, but I do not know how to find him.” Dr. Malan replied, “Come just as you are! You have only to come to Him just as you are,” and with that statement she accepted Jesus as her savior.
Little did Malan know that his simple words would reverberate throughout the Christian world and in churches for centuries to come! See, twelve years later in 1834, Charlotte was in poor health and reminded of the poignant words Dr. Malan shared earlier; “Come just as you are.” As she poured over his words, she sat and penned the poem entitled “Just as I am”.
Again, our words have power.
The poem would be published two years later in 1836 and thirteen years later, in 1849, Just as I am would become a song composed by William B. Bradbury. He was the same musician that composed “Jesus Loves Me”.
The words written by Ms Elliott and composed by Mr. Bradbury would become the great alter-invitational hymn that would be forever associated with Billy Graham’s ministry. The fifth verse states:
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!
Those are beautiful words of redemption; forgiveness and proof that the shed blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient.
The good news is two-fold: God is all we need and He takes us just as we are… 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.