THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION
“JUST AS I AM”
BY MYRA F. SMITH
BIBLE VERSE: “All that the Father gives to me will come to me, and the one who comes to Me, I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:37)
The first sentence I read about this hymn writer said, “She was an embittered woman, Charlotte Elliott of Brighton, England.” According to her nephew, Rev. Handley C.G. Moule: “But ill health still beset her…it often caused her the peculiar pain of a seeming uselessness in her life while the circle around her was full of unresting, service-ableness for God.”
In 1845, she experienced the darkest of times. Her father, Rev. H.V. Elliott, had conceived the plan of St. Mary’s Hall, at Brighton—a school at nominal cost, to educate the daughters of clergymen. A huge bazaar was held one night. Friends and family came to help and enjoy the day, while she lay in bed, unable to attend. She raised her voice to God and asked, “Why me?” “What good is my life if I can’t do anything?” When her family brought in a Swiss pastor to help her, she screamed at him.
Speaking of strong personalities, let’s take a look at Saul of Tarsus. Saul was a Christian killer. But God changed him, and sent him out to preach the gospel. But, Saul, now Paul, was not without pain. In 2 Cor. 12:7, Paul writes: “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given me a thorn in the flesh…”
Charlotte’s conversion was not as dramatic as Paul’s, but no less amazing. When she gave up control and gave her life to Christ, she was led to pen these words: “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!” In spite of the “thorn in her flesh”, she wrote 150 hymns and, the most famous, “Just As I Am” is played and sung at millions of conversion experiences.
What purpose did God have for Saul and for Charlotte? They came to God, just as they were, with fears and doubts within and without, and He gave them voices that reached into eternity.
And what about those pesky thorns? They became beautiful roses.