Thursday, February 16, 2023


 By Catherine Ulrich Brakefield

         “Just as I Am” is a well-known hymn written by Charlotte Elliott of Brighton, England (1789-1871) and used at the closing altar call of every Billy Graham crusade. It was also the chosen title of Graham’s autobiography written in 1997. Why? Why is this song so beloved, and why did it make such an impression even for the famous evangelist, Billy Graham?

         Charlotte was brought up in a loving, Christian environment. A happy and carefree girl, she enjoyed the finer things in life that her father and mother provided.

Little did she know that her carefree lifestyle would suddenly be whipped away from her.

 Charlotte grew up in Clapham, a village near London where her uncle ministered as vicar. Her talents consisted of portrait painting, and because she was good with words, she loved writing humorous verses. Her health began to fail her in her late twenties, and by the time she was in her thirties, she was a bedridden invalid for life. Despair racked her mind, crippling her more than her physical ailments did.

Charlotte was thirty-two and living with her married brother, the Rev. H. V. Elliott, in the seaside resort of Brighton, when noted Swiss evangelist Dr. César Malan came to visit.

Dr. Malan was drawn to Charlotte and asked her why she felt discouraged, are you a Christian?

She said she didn’t want to discuss that with him. Dr. Malan apologized for giving her offense and left. But Charlotte could not get the thought out of her mind. Three weeks later, she saw him again and confided that she could not get his words out of her head. She’d been trying to find Jesus her Savior but told him she had nothing of merit to bring to God.

Dr. Malan replied that she must come “just as you are.” It seemed a light went off in her head. Charlotte rejoiced. She had nothing of merit to give to God, but God’s grace and Jesus’ blood shed on Calvary was enough.

From the age of thirty-three to her death, suffering crippling fatigue, Charlotte resolved to fight against her bodily feelings of overpowering weakness, languor, and exhaustion. Her body hadn’t been healed—but she resolved, as He enabled her, to rise every morning determined. And this is her motto: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23 KJV

Determined to be useful in the Lord’s work, she took a job editing the Religious Remembrancer magazine, despite her ailments.

It was about twelve years later (in 1835),  when her brother was raising funds for a school, an overwhelming feeling of uselessness engulfed her as she lay exhausted upon a chair. She felt God had rejected all her efforts for Him. Pondering this, she realized others in her situation might need encouragement and wrote the soul-winning poem and later the song that went down in history as one of greatest hymns of all times, as well as Billy Graham’s cherished revival testimonial. That song brought more earnings for her brother’s school than any bazaar or charity drive ever!


Just as I am, without one plea,

But that Thy blood was shed for me,

And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.


Just a 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 and fears within, without,

O Lamb of God, I come, 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, 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

Hath broken every barrier down;

Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come.


Countless people with many worries and sins, broken and beaten down, ailing and dying have found contentment in the words above. God heard Charlotte’s daily prayers of “O Jesus, make Thyself to me, a living bright reality: more present to faith’s vision keen, than any outward object seen, more dear, more intimately rich, than e’en the sweetest earthly tie.”

Not of bodily healing, but of casting a moonbeam of hope down the tear-strewn pathway and boulders of fear and conflict that our doubts create. Casting aside the sins that would burden her shoulders to wear the Lord’s yoke, she felt heaven’s cleansing light.

After Charlotte’s death, over a thousand letters were found neatly arranged in boxes. She had kept everyone of the many encouraging words sent to her throughout the world! No wonder she ended up writing 150 hymns.

Her brother wrote this about his sister: “In the course of a long ministry, I hope to have been permitted to see some fruit of my labors; but I feel more has been done by a single hymn by my sister.”

Sisters and brothers, what is holding us back from striving forward boldly to encourage one another with a written word, forge new talents, and witness to a friend, brother, or grandchild. Who knows, they just might become the next Charlotte Elliott.

Billy Graham so eloquently phrased it (I have taken the liberty to bold this) for choosing Charlotte’s “Just as I Am” for his crusades and his autobiography. As it appears in an interview with CBS following the release of the book, Billy Graham said this about the title:

“In our crusades at the end of the message I give an invitation for people to commit their lives to Christ. We usually have the choir sing in the background “Just As I Am”…It has special meaning to all of us because they don’t have to go home and rearrange their lives; they can come just as they are, no matter how they are dressed, no matter what language they speak or what their sins are in their background. They come to Christ and He puts His arms of love around them forgives them and changes them.”

There are no little good works in God's eyes.  "But many who are first will be last, and the last first." (Matthew 19:30 20:16)


Love’s Final Sunrise: New Yorker Ruth Jessup and Amish-bred Joshua Stutzman live in different worlds. But their lives collide into catastrophic proportions battling with against a psychopath and The New World Order…

Catherine is an award-winning author of Wilted Dandelions, Swept into Destiny Destiny’s Whirlwind, Destiny of Heart, and Waltz with Destiny. Her newest book is Love’s Final Sunrise. Catherine and her husband of fifty years have two adult children, four grandchildren, four Arabian horses, two dogs, five cats, seven chickens and five bunnies! See to sign up on my e-mail and speaking engagements.


  1. Thank you for posting today! What a wonderful thought to ponder as I start my day. "Just as I am, without one plea."

    1. Connie, there is no person or deed in God's mission that isn't important. If that certain someone hadn't confronted Charlotte, she might NEVER had written Just as I Am! Everyone's mission is very, very important to God. Hope this helps. God put it on my mind to tell you this!