In London about a hundred years ago, there was a famous evangelist with a strange name — Caesar Milan. He was a cultured man and he associated with the lords of Parliament and their ladies. He was invited to the parties and functions of the higher classes, yet he was an earnest servant of God.
One day he attended one of these social events in London, where among others he met a very talented young lady, who was an artist, a poet and a musician. Before the great crowd of titled people, she played most beautifully on the piano, and after it was over many people congratulated her, last of all Caesar Milan. He told her how much he enjoyed her playing and then he said: “God has given you a great gift, and you ought to consecrate it to Him because He expects you to bring Him returns from the gifts He gives you.”
The young artist didn’t understand that, so the preacher said frankly: “Remember this — unless you give your heart to God, you’re an unsaved sinner and (pointing out the window to a poor abandoned wretch going by on the street) you’ll be lost just as will that poor soul.”
That made her angry. Her face flushed and she turned from him at once. But she couldn’t enjoy the party anymore, so she rushed out of the place and went on home. She went to bed, but she couldn’t sleep. The earnest words of that servant of God continued to ring in her ears. She knew they were true. About 2 o’clock in the morning, that talented girl, that poet, artist, and musician, made her surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. And she got out of bed and wrote a beautiful poem as her testimony and confession of faith:
“Just as I am without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,
Oh, Lamb of God, I come, I come.”
We still sing that wonderful song written by Charlotte Elliott as her personal confession of faith in Christ. And that very day the Holy Spirit began to write on her heart, the new heart which God gave her, the wonderful things revealed in the broken heart of Christ. She became a great Christian and a mighty worker for God.
Editor’s Comment: Wikipedia’s version is different but just as touching.
It begins “Charlotte spent the first 32 years of her life in Clapham. As a young woman, she was gifted as a portrait artist and a writer of humorous verse. Then, in her early thirties, she suffered a serious illness that left her weak and depressed. She was an invalid and suffered much during the last 50 years of her life. In 1823, she moved to Brighton. She was a member of the Church of England [but] Charlotte was confined to her home and unable to attend church services.
During her illness, a well-known preacher, Cesar Malan of Switzerland, came to visit her. He asked her if she had peace with God. She was facing many inner struggles because of feeling useless, and she resented the question. She refused to talk about it that day, but a few days later called Dr. Milan and apologized. She said she wanted to clean up her life before becoming a Christian. Malan answered, “Come just as you are.”
She gave her life to Christ that day.
Some years later at age 45, Charlotte remembered those five words and began to write the seven verses of “Just As I Am” in 1834. In spite of being raised in a Christian home, she reflected on her conflicts and doubts and was unsure of her relationship with Christ. So, she penned her words of assurance about Jesus loving her just as she was. William B. Bradbury composed music for her lyrics and published the song in 1849. This hymn has been translated into many languages all over the world. Tens of thousands of people have committed their lives to Christ during the playing of this hymn.
Miss Elliott wrote about 150 hymns and many poems, some of which were printed anonymously, with Just As I Am probably the best-known. Dr. Billy Graham later wrote that the hymn presented “the strongest possible Biblical basis for the call of Christ.” Hymnody historian Kenneth Osbeck wrote that Just As I Am had “touched more hearts and influenced more people for Christ than any other song ever written.” Christian writer Lorella Rouster wrote, “The hymn is an amazing legacy for an invalid woman who suffered from depression and felt useless to God’s service.” And Dr. John Julian was later to write, “Though weak and feeble in body, she possessed a strong imagination and a well-cultured and intellectual mind. Her verse is characterized by tenderness of feeling, plaintive simplicity, deep devotion and perfect rhythm. She sang for those in sickness and sorrow as very few others have ever done”.
Article Courtesy of the Anglo-Saxon World