John 6:37 reads - “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (ESV)

Lent is a time to come to the Lord and repent. On Sundays during this season we are studying Micah in worship, to remind us that it is in kindness and love and humbly turning to God that we come to Him, not in rituals or speeches or pretend ways. And all of us need to turn to God in Jesus. We need to come no matter how much we think we deserve Jesus or don’t deserve Him, because Jesus welcomes us just as we are. That reminds me of the Hymn, “Just as I Am” which has a long history of use in the church to remind us of just this truth. Some may associate it with funerals or tent revivals, but it is a song of joy and love. Did you know that Heather and I had that hymn at our wedding—not only to remind us of our grandparents but also to remind us that always in our marriage we turn to Jesus, no matter where we are or what state we are in, we turn to Jesus together.

Do you know the story about that hymn? It was written by Charlotte Elliott in the mid-1800s. She was in ill health most of her adult years and developed a profound disability. She used to say— “If God loved me so much, He wouldn’t have treated me like this.” On a pastoral visit in 1822 as the pastor and her family sat to dinner, Charlotte cursed God and, as her niece said, “uttered the most vulgar language for a lady or a gentleman.”

The pastor was left alone with her and was quite blunt. “You are tired of yourself aren’t you? You feel abandoned and left along and so you cling to the only thing you have which is bitterness. You have become the misery you so despise.” Charlotte asked him the cure for that if life were worth living. He replied, “Faith, the very faith you cursed.” “And how am I to find this faith?” she asked. The pastor told her in no uncertain terms—“Give yourself to God, just now as you are, with your fighting and shame, your loves and hates, your fears and pains.” Charlotte replied, “That’s all, just come to God, just as I am? Is that right?”

Charlotte said her heart was changed that day, and that John 6:37 appeared in her mind and became the verse that sustained her through all the pain and joy in her life to age 82. Her brother was a pastor and published the poem that William Bradbury later set to music as a benefit for the parish. When she died, her family went through her things. Charlotte wrote over 150 poems, but what became “Just As I Am” was by far her most influential. Her family found over 1,000 letters written to Charlotte thanking her for the hope and joy this hymn brought to them and the call they heard in it to come to Jesus. Her niece said, “As the bitterness left her heart so did the love and peace of Christ which filled it spread out of it into people she never even met.”

This Lent, come to Jesus just as you are. Turn it all over to Him—your joys and wealth, your sorrows and pains, your sins and wrongs. Give it all to Jesus and trust in His grace. Jesus will receive you, will welcome, pardon, cleanse, and relieve you. O Lamb of God I come, I come.

- Pastor Tim

Some of this background is from the book Then Sings my Soul by Robert Morgan

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