March 19—Just as I Am, Without One Plea

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! (“Just as I Am, Without One Plea” by Charlotte Elliott)

When the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Mark 2:16–17 NLT)

When Charlotte Elliott was 32, she suffered under an illness that left her disabled until her death in 1871. With her skill as a poet, she wrote roughly 150 hymns during the fifty years of her convalescence, the most famous of which is undoubtedly “Just as I Am, Without One Plea.” The story goes that her brother and his family, whom she lived with, had left her at home alone while they attended a church bazaar to raise funds for a charity school. During the night previous to and the day of the bazaar, Elliott was actively struggling with depression over her perceived uselessness and worthlessness because, unlike her family, she couldn’t provide any physical assistance. It was in this dark space that she remembered words given to her years prior by an evangelist friend – “Just come to Him as you are” – and before her family had returned from the fundraiser the text for the hymn had been completed.

This lesson that Elliott took to heart that day is one that all of us struggle with at some point. Sometimes we need reminded that there is nothing we can do to earn an audience with the King, it comes through the shed blood of Jesus. This means there is no one who is considered useless, unloved, or unworthy in the Kingdom of God, and it means that there are no qualifications of merit necessary to be called a child of God. Write God a poem; sing Him a song; paint Him a picture; worship your King today because He is the Lamb of God who was slain so that we might freely come into His presence.

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