Behind the Hymn

The Story Behind …
“Just As I Am”

If there is one hymn that is sung more often than any other while the preacher is inviting people to “come forward” it is, “Just As I Am.”

Probably more persons have accepted Christ with strains of that old hymn ringing in their ears than any other gospel song.

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come.

Charlotte Elliott, who wrote that song, was an invalid living in England. One day Dr. Malan, a house guest from Geneva, broached the subject of personal salvation and asked Miss Elliott whether she ever had come to the Lord Jesus Christ and accepted Him as her personal Saviour.

The young woman resented the question and quickly changed the subject. But it set her to thinking.

Later she said to Dr. Malan, “You spoke of coming to Jesus, but how? I am not fit to come.”

He replied, “Come just as you are.” She did so; and later, in her room, she wrote the lines of her hymn. One verse says:

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.

Sometime afterward she related her experience to a friend and showed him what she had written. Somehow the lines got into print, and eventually people began singing them to a tune composed by a New Englander, William B. Bradbury. Today the hymn is translated into many languages, and people of every color, every age, and every station in life have knelt before God and made it their prayer of penitence.

Some hesitate to come as they are. They think they’re not fit to come. They want to dress up first. They think they have to get rid of their bad habits, or make restitution, or do something else before they can come. That’s like a drowning man who can’t swim but who keeps struggling in a vain attempt to save himself. The lifeguard can’t save him until he quiets down.

You can’t save yourself. God does not ask you to. All He asks, if you are not saved, is that you let Him do it. Just confess your need of salvation and repent of your sins, and then trust in His saving power. Never mind your bad habits or misdeeds. He will help you solve those problems later. It will be easier than you expect, for you will be a new person once you are saved.

Come now, and don’t delay. You need not wait another minute, as the hymn says:

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.

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