She was severely and chronically ill, deeply depressed and unbearably weak, unable to attend church services, and stripped of her previous job. Her abilities lay dormant. Her social life ceased to exist. She was creative, funny, and talented . . . until she wasn’t anymore. Now she felt useless and maybe even worthless.
Though it may sound like a modern day, Covid-related story we hear on the evening news or a daytime talk show this year, it’s actually a scene from the life of humorist and poet Charlotte Elliot (1789 - 1871). As a young adult, Charlotte was struck with a serious illness with which she suffered for nearly 50 years. During the early years of her illness, a well-known preacher, Cesar Malan of Switzerland, came to visit her and asked if she had peace with God. Peace with God was not something she felt at that time; she didn’t want to answer the question. A few days later, she contacted Dr. Malan to apologize for her response and confessed that she wanted to clean up her life before coming to Christ. It is recorded that his answer to her was simply “Come as you are.” Though she had been raised in a Christian home, Charlotte gave her own life to Christ on that day. It was several years later, after that beautiful conversation with the minister and her own growth in her relationship with the Lord, that she penned seven incredible verses to the song Just As I Am, put to music by famed composer, William B. Bradbury (1816 - 1868), who also composed the music to many of the hymns we know and love today, including Jesus Loves Me.
In 2009, worship leader and arranger, Travis Cottrell added the chorus I Come Broken to this classic and treasured hymn. Though there are varying opinions on adding modern lyrics to the rich, poetic treasures of sacred hymns - and valid reasoning on both sides of the aisle - I chose this arrangement and additional chorus of Just As I Am because I like the priority the lyrics place on WHY we come to Him. In a culture that constantly bombards us with the seemingly positive, but totally unbiblical, message, “You’re perfect just the way you are,” this song points us back to the scriptural truth that we are imperfect (Isaiah 64:6), though loved by a perfect Creator (Matthew 5:48, I John 3:1). In this fallen world, feeling broken, empty, alone, forgotten, sinful, desperate, wronged, etc. is a part of life. This song reminds us that since God DOES love us just as we are, He desires to lovingly move us away from our falleness and closer to who He created us to be (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I come broken to be mended: Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
I come wounded to be healed: He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)
I come desperate to be rescued: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
I come empty to be filled: Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes me shall not thirst.’ (John 6:35)
I come guilty to be pardoned by the blood of Christ the Lamb: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
And I’m welcomed with open arms, praise God, just as I am: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)
What a deep and profound love our Father has for us in that while we were still sinners, He sent His Son to DIE in our place (Romans 5:8) and yet that is just the BEGINNING of our relationship with Him! Praise God!