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Archive for March 4th, 2018

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With the passing of Billy Graham, from Earth to eternity, I keep hearing, in my mind, those familiar lyrics …

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

This hymn, written in 1835 by Charlotte Elliot, who referred to Just as I am as her spiritual autobiography. It is a song of coming to Christ, of acceptance. Really, it is a song of forfeit to some greater force, and with the greatest of humility.

My own personal connection to it was that it was used when I was baptized, at the age of sixteen. A verse was sung after each person was baptized.

I remember that day so well, and the pondering that led to my decision to be baptized. I had been told by a friend that without baptism I would not enter heaven when I died. I did not agree.

That disagreement sent me right where, I believe, God wanted me to go … to the Bible. I read every verse and book chapter, that I could find, that spoke of baptism. I learned what a commentary was, and I poured over their understanding of biblical texts on the subject.

Finally, I came to my own conclusion, that baptism was simply the outward expression to the world, of the acceptance I had made, of the redemption availed to me through Jesus. I also came to the conclusion that it was what I would choose to do, because I wanted the world to know that I was associating with Jesus, for the rest of my life. Not because I had it all together, not because I was perfect, but because I was renewed, redeemed.

And that is the appeal of the hymn, Just as I am. It is not a song about how we have it all together. As a matter of fact, it is quite the opposite:

without one plea
rid my soul of one dark blot
many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without
poor, wretched, blind

It is a song of self-realization of the lacking, the negativity, the sin in our lives. And it is in acknowledging where we lack that openness to what Christ has for us, is birthed. Even in the negatives, each verse ends with “O Lamb of God, I come!”

My favourite verse is the fifth (I believe the last in the hymnal I grew up with),

“Just as I am – Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe

That is it, belief.

Not vast amounts of tithing, piety or perfection, but because I believe.

Romans 10:9 tells us, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Though my baptism was not some magical event, it is one of the most special events of my life, because it was the first time that I declared with my mouth that Jesus is my Lord … it was the public expression of the change in my heart.

Is Jesus your Lord? Do you believe it, in your heart, that he was raised from the dead? for you?

Believe, and be saved … just as you are.

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!

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!

Just as I am – though toss’d about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
-O Lamb of God, 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!

Just as I am – Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
-O Lamb of God, I come!

Just as I am – Thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down;
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
-O Lamb of God, 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

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