Sunday 8 July 2018

Just as I am

I love music, and I enjoy finding stories behind music. It is almost a compulsion - to know the story behind every song. I've found lots of powerful stories by searching old hymns, and why they were written. I've written about it before, but not that often.

This morning, I was thinking of the old hymn, Just As I Am. You ready? It's a beautiful story.

Charlotte Elliot, in 1822, of Brighton, England was done. She had been known as "carefree Charlotte" in her youth, and was popular - she drew portraits of people and was a writer of humorous verse. That changed when she turned 30, and illness put her in bed for the rest of her life. It affected her deeply. "If God truly loved me," she muttered, "He would not treat me this way."
A Swiss minister visited on 9th May, and she lost it completely over dinner -railing at God and society and everything - to the extent that the rest of her family left the room, leaving her alone with Dr. Cesar Malan. He didn't leave, but saw her pain, so that she was able to ask "What is your cure?" "The very faith you are trying to despise," he retorted. As they chatted, she asked the doctor what she would do if she did want to become a Christian. "You would give yourself to God just as you are now, with your fightings and fears, hates and loves, pride and shame," he said, wisely.

Charlotte did, lived until 82, and penned over 150 hymns, although she never enjoyed good health.

We've been thinking, as a family, about church, values, traditions, and how they impact on society. It saddens me to hear how Christian people, acting as "missionaries" and bringing the "gospel" to the nations have over the years, insisted that the people to whom they're preaching adopt not only their God and their religion, but also the way they always done it - with the bells, smells, dresses and tresses, head coverings and stone buildings. The hymn that Charlotte wrote dispenses with all that, and encourages us to come just as we are.

After her death, her family found over a thousand letters she had kept in which people expressed their gratitude for how her hymn had touched their lives.

There are many great versions of this beautiful hymn. I prefer the simpler ones, like this Brian Doerksen rendition.

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid’st 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 within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind;
Yes, 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
Has broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

And this a cappella one also feeds my soul.

Happy Sunday.

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