just as i am

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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!

Under great emotional stress, Charlotte Elliott penned the poem “Just as I am”, which was published in 1835 as a hymn – one that has “touched more hearts and influenced more people for Christ than any other song ever written,” says Hymnody historian Kenneth Osbeck.

When a series of illnesses left her weak, disabled, and depressed, Charlotte struggled to find inner peace. Her spiritual mentor encouraged her to replace her rage and inner conflict with simple faith in God. He spoke the words that inspired the poem:

Come to Christ just as you are.

Some people hold tight to their faith during hard times. Others, like me, give it the strong-arm. My inner disharmony makes me feel inadequate to enter into His presence, so I don’t. Or if I do, it’s with fisticuffs. I end up wrestling with God in the likes of Jacob. I’m embarrassed of my weaknesses and fearful of circumstances out of my control, so logically, I fight with irrational reasoning. I’m sure some psychologist would call this the fight-or-flight response.

I had a conversation recently with a friend who is struggling to stay afloat with all that life has thrown at her. We could be one in the same in the way we deal with conflict, grief, or trauma. I think I spoke to her some advice that could be summed up like this:

Keep the faith, even it you don’t feel like it. Oh, and don’t be shy to have it out with God. He can handle it.

I think I said this more for me than for her.

One of my New Year’s goals this year was to study the book of Psalms. It oozes with laments, complaints, and grievances. It’s refreshing … in a brutal way, of course. The author, many times David, comes to God in a depressed, desperate, and ill state … begging God for relief. But, in the end of nearly all his writings, David checks his emotions at the door and lists God’s promises.

(Ms. Elliot) gathered up in her soul the great certainties, not of her emotions, but of her salvation: her Lord, his power, his promises. And taking pen and paper from the table she deliberately set down in writing, for her own comfort, ‘the formula of her faith’.

The great certainties. Not of her emotions. Formula of her faith.

I can relate to these words – simple faith in God.

There are times I don’t feel like coming to God. I don’t feel adequate. Or ready. Or worthy. But these are just the times I should be running to him. I often forget that he loves me more than I love my own children. And don’t we all want our kids to run to us when they are stressed or depressed?

Just as I am. By the world’s standards, I may look a little (or a lot) tattered. But there’s this promise that Jesus made, relayed to us by the disciple who Jesus loved:

Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go.

I’m so thankful that God will take me just as I am whether I’m in my super-swell-all-is-well-state … or in my messy-stressy-depressy state.

He won’t let go.

And that’s the promise I hold onto today.

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