There it is again; that song. It haunts me with its nagging message, just as I am. Oh, that it would go away and leave me alone. STOP THAT SINGING!
I staggered to a snow covered park bench just outside a small church. There it is again, that song being sung by a choir could not be quieted by the wooden doors of the church.
Calling me…compelling me…lost sinner, come home. “Please God, stop that singing! I can’t come home. I have been too far down that road that leads to destruction.”
I was just twelve years old when I first heard that song . It was at a small church. I arrived there from my poor neighborhood on a bus. I was barefooted and rather ragged by the standards of the others sitting near me. I know I must have smelled. You don’t get too clean bathing in an old galvanized tub sitting on the floor. Especially if you were the second one to use the water like I was.
At the end of the service, the preacher had the choir sing, “Just As I Am.” During the singing he made a plea for those who needed a Savior to come forward. I ran to the altar without hesitation . I knew I needed a Savior, because I knew the secret things I did could be seen by God.
Now, here I sat, full of disgrace, and the filth I had let myself get into as I grew into adulthood. Yes, I know God sees the secret things I do. It is more than I can bear. There is no hope for one as lost as me.
While I was contemplating my demise, the great heavy doors of the church slowly opened and a bright light sprang forth causing me to bolt upright on the bench. A lone figure walked briskly towards me. The singing was much louder now. “Just as I am without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me and that Thou bid’st me come to Thee oh Lamb of God…I come.”
I hung my head in shame as the man from the church sat down beside me and put his arm around my shoulders. He told me he had been watching me sit here and that he knew I was hurting. He said he heard me shout to stop the singing, but he wanted me to hear the rest of the song. He ask me to just listen to the choir for a moment. He lifted my face with his caring hands and turned his eyes toward the open door.
The singing continued, “just as I am and waiting not, to rid my soul of one dark blot, to Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot, oh Lamb of God, I come.”
For the first time since I was that twelve-year-old boy, I felt that there might be hope for me. The man stood and gently pulled me to my feet beside him. He walked with me to the open door and took me just inside as the singing intensified, “Just as I am thou tossed about with many a conflict and many a doubt.”
This kindly man nudged me down the aisle towards the altar as the singing thundered in my ears, “fighting fears within and without, oh Lamb of God I come.”
There at the altar, I stood before the preacher with a new resolve. The preacher took my hand and asked me what brought me forth. I told him that this kind man from his congregation had come outside and invited me in. The preacher said, “what man would that be?” I looked at him bemused and said, “this man beside me.” The pastor said in a kind but confused tone that I stood there alone. Shocked I looked at the man that was right there beside me and, for the first time, I noticed the nail scarred hands and the blood that flowed from them onto His snow-white garments.
I fell prostrate on the floor as the preacher spoke the sinners prayer to me and I repeated after him as the singing became the sweet sound of deliverance, “Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, will dwell, come pardon, cleanse, receive. Because Thy promise I BELIEVE, oh Lamb of God I come…I come.
I wasn't prepared, Lucian, for all the tears well before arriving to the end. Isn't it just like our blessed Lord to hear our cry and come Himself to fill the real need, the need buried deep within His precious love for me. I know I'll never hear Just As I Am without seeing that bench, and feeling His arm around my shoulders ... and His precious, priceless nail scarred hands. God bless.