Today, I want to talk with you about a song. When I led the church I pastor in Communion this month, our wonderful organist, Sharon Redinbaugh, played “Just As I Am.” Like always, it inspired me and took me back to a lot of wonderful memories.
Most all of you have heard that great hymn. It was written way back in 1836 and really reflects the wonderful verse from John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” These words of Jesus are so inspiring.
I heard the words to that great hymn over fifty years ago, when as a young boy I listened on my transistor radio late Sunday nights on WHO 1040, the Hour of Decision with Billy Graham. His inspiring words and stories and the wonderful strains of that song touched my heart greatly. As I grew older, that hymn touched me again and again. When I heard it many years later at seminars I attended as a young pastor or on television, it still touched me and to this day, it has the same effect it first did.
It floods my soul and memories and reminds me of the great truth I share with all of you. That truth is that God loves you and unlike any other religion in the world it reminds us that God meets us at our point of need and has reached down to us to save us and redeem us right where we are. Other religions see people try to do something to save themselves and reach God. But the heart of the Gospel is that God reached down to us just as we are, sinners and saved us by His grace and love when we accept His Son Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.
That song written so long ago by Charlotte Elliott captures all of it.
Charlotte Elliott was a bitter woman who was disabled and was angry and blamed God for her disability. She was so bitter, that when a Swiss minister came to her home hoping to help her, she completely blew up and railed against God. Her family was shell-shocked and left the room. But not the minster, Dr. Cesar Malan. He confronted her about hating so much and she challenged him asking him what the cure was for her bitterness and sour attitude. He told her this, “the answer for you is the faith you are trying to despise. You could give yourself to God just as you are with your fightings, fears, hates, and loves, pride and shame.”
She said to him, “then just as I am?” The answer from him was a resounding yes. That day, she dedicated her life to Jesus and accepted Him as Savior and Lord. Her heart and life was changed.
Years later she’d penned the words that became the greatest invitational hymn in the Christian faith. It was and would be one of 150 plus she wrote. Her health never really improved that much but her life and attitude did. Her life had been touched and changed and the song that she wrote has, as it did while she was still alive, changed many in her day.
My simple message to you today is this: I know many who read this column today are struggling with one thing or another. But I want to tell you with every confidence that God loves you and Jesus is a Savior and friend who reaches out to you this very moment and and says, “Come to Me and I will give you rest.”
He loves you unconditionally and wants to help you no matter what your situation is. He wants to and He can and He will. You are always on His mind. He will never fail you or forsake you and He is, as the Bible says, “a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Today is your day. He has given you this day of life. Never be shackled by hatred or bitterness or disappointments or past errors. He is the light that shines in the darkness and though life may have and maybe is tossing you about, He can, as He did for the disciples on the Sea of Galilee, calm the storms in your life. He will welcome you, pardon you and cleanse and relieve you. Count on it. He loves you and you can bring it all to Him just as you are. That, indeed, is Good News.
Today on another front, a special thanks to The Peace Quilters, all the Welcome Home Soldier volunteers and Jim Keller and colleagues, the American Legion and its leaders and Albia High School for all you do to honor our veterans. As I said in my talk on Veterans’ Day, no one does it better than Monroe County. God bless you all.
And one more thing, thanks to Tom Jamison, Gary and Brian Dustin, John Goode, and Rex Clark for your wonderful installation of the 25 foot flag pole and plaque at Trinity United Methodist Church with the U.S and Christian flags. It is an honor and memorial on behalf of my folks, David and Gladys Grimes. They did and do love their country and the Lord. Thanks for all you did.
And finally, thanks to the committee who have done such a wonderful job facilitating and planning the new Freedom Rock on the square. Ray Vitko, thanks for your inspiration and all your great committee. Freedom and liberty are wonderful blessings from the Lord and that rock with its great themes are certainly reflective of that truth.