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Just As I Am

Just As I Am

By Meagan Newell on April 17, 2017

England, early 1800’s. 

It was a season that instituted a fusion of ideals. Religious power began to merge with political agenda, creating a platform of social reform that influenced an entire country. 

It was within this time that Charlotte Elliot was born. 

Charlotte was strong, opinionated, and deeply genuine. Her father was a reverend and leader within the Clapham Sect, a powerful religious and social activist group. They were the families that eventually championed the abolition of slavery throughout the British empire, just to give a little context. 

Basically, Charlotte was born into an evangelical legacy. 

However, as I’m sure many of us “PK’s” can understand, she tended to reject her roots for the first half of her life. She refused to acknowledge a personal relationship with Jesus, not because she didn’t believe, but because she didn’t feel worthy. 

Her worldview was rooted in a belief that her sin nature was beyond what the cross could accomplish. Yikes. I can personally relate to that. Can you?

Growing up in the church, she was constantly encouraged to be more active within the community. She was pushed to serve in various roles, but she always fought back. She was weighted by her fear of inadequacy and lack of forgiveness. She just couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that God would see her, let alone allow her to make any kind of impact. 

She spent the first half of her life in devastating fear, frozen in the lie that she was not qualified to serve and too human to be saved. She kept a low profile, only attending the mandatory, relying on her silence to hide her true heart in the midst of clergy and reform. 

And then it happened. In her early 30’s, Charlotte fell ill. So ill, in fact, it forced her into the isolating life of an invalid. She could no longer leave her home, walk any considerable distance, or serve in any capacity. She wasn’t allowed to join her family at church, or visit friends. She was alone, in constant pain, and faithless.

Depressed yet? Yeh I was too. Just hang in there. It’s Easter. I promise to stay in the “that’s not the end of the story!” theme. 

After years of bed-ridden illness, Charlotte was visited by an old friend. A pastor from Switzerland who had strong ties with her family. He sat with her and talked, attempting to speak life over what she deemed a death sentence. He began to ask her about her relationship with God, a question she still refused to face. She dismissed every effort to discuss her spirituality and eventually dismissed the pastor as well. 

And yet, his words stuck. His gentle encouragement and passion for Jesus inspired her. She felt so lost and so broken, and this man took time out of his life to tell her she wasn’t. I wish I could’ve heard the exact words he said to her that day, because whatever they were, they were powerful enough to invoke conversion. She met with him days later, told him her story of unworthiness, and asked him to help her find Jesus.

His response? “Come just as you are.”

And that was it. She gave her life to Jesus. And her life was completely and radically changed.

The world continued to view Charlotte as an invalid. Broken, dismissed, and isolated. And even with this new found life in Christ, she continued to sink deeper into her feelings of inadequacy. She'd been labeled INVALID, and now that she actually had the heart for service and evangelism, she was unable to have any effect. What a dark realization, a nail in a coffin. 

One night, in the midst of a town revival, Charlotte was grieving over her inability to attend and be a part of her church community. She desperately wanted to be involved. In her heartbreak, she felt led to write. She began versing a song, stanza by stanza, knowing it was the only form of encouragement she had in her helpless state of mind. She had to believe what Jesus believed. She remembered the precious words the pastor had spoken over her years prior. 

“Come just as you are.” 

It sparked a lyric, that sparked a melody, that lead to a hymn I’m sure you’ll remember well…

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.

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

With the Easter season behind us, I am still so in awe of the cross. Charlotte understood the WEIGHT of Calvary. She understood sin nature, she understood humanity. What she found difficult to rationalize was GRACE. And that’s the point, isn’t it? Jesus died so that we could live, and live in freedom. 

Even when we feel invalid, even when we believe we are incapable or unworthy of service, the fact remains that we were worth saving in Jesus’ eyes. What a precious gift, what a beautiful acceptance. Charlotte believed her life would have no effect because she was tied down by circumstances. But God truly does love us and lead us where we are at. We can come just as we are and He will continue to use us day after day if our hearts are open. 

Charlotte Elliot continued to write hymns, which eventually lead to a full songbook under the title “Hymns for the Invalid.” It doesn’t get much more powerful than that, ya’ll. Her legacy lives on, despite her belief that she had nothing to offer. And that is our God, isn’t it? 

He died for your heart, He rose for your freedom. If you feel unworthy of that gift today, welcome to the club. You’re absolutely correct. But the Word says to “walk boldly before your God.” Don’t let that feeling of unworthiness overpower God’s truth. The blood covered you, the cross gave you purpose. 

So rise and walk in that knowledge. Embrace your calling and write the song, sing the lyric, lead the team, play the piano, do the work it takes to share the glory of what you know to be true. Invite others to come just as they are and see what that does for your ministry. Leave a legacy, inspire change, and walk in the boldness required to share grace. 

"Just as I am, and waiting not…” Don’t wait. You have the truth and you are not invalid. Go. Believe it, walk in it, SHARE IT.

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Meagan Newell

Meagan Newell