SERENDIPITY FOR SATURDAY

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She was born on March 18, 1789 in Clapham, England. Her grandfather was a pastor in Huddersfield. She was a bright young girl, inquisitive and self-motivated. Her interests led to her becoming a well-known portrait artist in the days when photography was not yet invented. She also had a great love for poetry and music, while dabbling in writing some poems. She was regarded as a brilliant and vivacious woman with a great future ahead of her, because of her strong imagination and well-cultured intellect. But then she began to suffer from some illness that started to rack her body with symptoms we know today as Muscular Dystrophy. As she became more feeble and unable to take care of herself and pursue her interests, she became more and more depressed. And with her depression she had less and less time for the God she thought had failed her. As she got older and less involved outside the home, not only did she deal with depression, but also the feeling that she was no longer worth anything to anyone. Her brother had become a pastor, and in 1834 when Charlotte was 45 years old, living now in Westfield Lodge, Brighton, England, he shared a plan he had conceived of building a school designed to give at nominal cost, a higher education to the daughters of poor clergymen, and call it St. Mary’s Hall. Everyone in Westfield Lodge was all excited about this project, and they all became involved morning and night in preparation for a large bazaar to raise money for this effort. That is, everyone except Charlotte. As a family friend would tell it, the night before the bazaar she was kept awake by distressing thoughts of her apparent uselessness, which transitioned easily into spiritual conflict until she questioned the reality of her whole spiritual life, and wondered whether it was anything but an illusion of the emotions, a fantasy ready to be sorrowfully dispelled. The next day Charlotte was feeling unusually depressed and alone. The other members of her family had gone off to the bazaar while she, an invalid and bedridden, remained at home sulking in self-pity. Later at a dinner party, a pastor from Geneva, Dr. Caesar Malan was there as a guest. As they talked, Dr. Malan noticed that Charlotte did not have much good to say about her Christian faith and her walk with God. As a matter of fact, she felt that because of her illness she had drifted away from her faith and relationship with God to the point of no return. Sensing the enormous burden weighing on her conscience, Dr. Malan said very compassionately, “Charlotte, go to God just as you are.” Charlotte looked at him somewhat incredulously and said, “Don’t I have to do better, make more progress, and improve more before I believe in the Lord Jesus?” Dr. Malan simply repeated this priceless phrase: “You must come to Him just as you are.” Later that night in her bedroom, she kept thinking of what Dr. Malan said, and decided to put her thoughts into words. Later she showed a friend what she had written, and he felt it was good enough to put into print.

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.

Just as I am, of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

When New England composer, William B. Bradbury saw the poem, he was inspired to write a musical score to these words. Before she died at the age of 82, Charlotte received thousands of letters from all over the world telling her how moved and blessed they were by these words. Had she not been sick or suffered for years as an invalid, Charlotte would have never written this poem that has been sung in thousands and thousands of churches and during evangelistic services, such as those of Billy Graham. The Holy Spirit would not have had these moving words to stir hearts and souls just as they are to fall at Jesus’ feet and accepting Him as their Lord and Savior. So the next time something gets you down, let it lift you up instead, as you remember that God can use you just as you are.

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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