While the cry of the longing heart at Advent begs, “Come, Lord Jesus!” the Divine Lord has an invitation of His own for the weary and sin-oppressed to “Come to Me!”

May His Light lead you to Himself in these days…

• • • •

Charlotte was caught.

Like every human before her and since, she found herself trapped in a lair from which there was no escape, the victim of a fate for no other reason than just being born.

The saga of Charlotte Elliott’s exhausting struggle against the venomous power of sin provides the background for one of evangelicalism’s most enduring treasures.

Charlotte (1789-1871) was awakened to the plague of her own sinful nature and her impotence to resist sin’s enticements when quite young. From her youth, Charlotte felt herself increasingly unworthy of God’s grace and incapable of facing a wholly righteous and almighty Potentate.

She visited many houses of worship and solicited the help of an array of pastors, all of whom counseled her simply to pray more, study the Bible more, perform more noble deeds, and resolve to do better.

However, all the advice she received was loath to free her from her predicament. It served only to sink her more deeply into the bondage of hopeless despair.

Charlotte was in agony of soul. It didn’t help that her debilitating fatigue – a disability breeding her own sense of worthlessness – multiplied her sorrows.

The years went by and Charlotte continued struggling in vain against sin, herself and an unreachable God, all the while mired in self-condemnation.

She knew all too well the diagnosis of an unredeemed heart, one fully incapable of escaping its condition, described in Romans 7:18:

I know that in me…nothing good dwells; for to will [the good] is present with me, but to work out the good is not.”

In the proverbial nick of time, when all hope of rescue eluded her, Charlotte Elliott met the eminent preacher and hymnologist, Dr. Cesar Malan (no, not the dog whisperer!). This encounter would prove to be a great turning point in Charlotte’s life.

She asked him, as she had asked many others, how she might be saved. Sensing the enormous burden weighing upon her conscience, Malan responded compassionately, “Go to God just as you are.”

Charlotte asked him incredulously, “Do I not have to do better, make more progress, and improve more before I believe in the Lord Jesus?” Malan simply repeated this simple, priceless phrase: “You must come to Him just as you are.”

Those liberating economy of words had a deep and indelible effect on Charlotte Elliott and would later inspire the composition of her best-known hymn, “Just as I Am.”

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, 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, I come!

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt;
Fightings within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind;
Yes, all I need, in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, 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, 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, I come!

In this Advent season, let the invitation of Christ – the reason He came – fill your heart with joy, remembering that you were once trapped in a web of eternal hopelessness but were freed because of the Gospel of Grace.

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Post Author: Pasturescott

4 Replies to “Charlotte’s Web”

  1. You got my attention with your title today. I was looking for Wilbur and Charlotte instead I found the back story of one of my favorite hymns. Oh the joy we find when we come to Christ just as we are!

    1. Smiles, Joyce. Not long ago I sat in a bookstore cafe and reread that classic pulled from a shelf. It took me back. The manager sniggered at a 50+ year old man reading a child’s book but I read on, happy as you please.

      Blessed Advent to you, Joyce!

  2. It’s sad to me that it’s so hard for me to hear the words of this incredible hymn for just what they are. It’s hard to get past singing it endlessly during altar calls week after week in church cultures which actually communicated the opposite message.

    A different tune may help.

    But how…*how* could we sing this so persistently with so little real comprehension??? sigh.

    1. Hi Jennifer. Having grown up in the leaven of legalism my heart was “strangely warmed”(a la Wesley!) once upon a time by the greatest altar call of ever in Matthew 11:28-30 and everything changed for me. I discovered the Gospel is not the Bad News or Hard News but the Good News – and it’s for sinners who…can’t. Just can’t. And it doesn’t change afterward. Living under the blessing of the Gospel means knowing we still can’t but that He Is. And the same grace that initially saved us keeps saving us with the promise He will make us beautiful – by grace – in His time.

      Thank you for adding your precious heart to this conversation!

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