Sermon Illustrations

“Just As We Are!” Exodus 14:13-14 Key verse(s) 14:“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Keeping a positive outlook on life is pretty hard when nothing much positive seems to be happening in your life. Let’s face it, when things are going bad, really bad, there is nothing worse than a confrontation with an eternal optimist. That’s the last thing you really need. At times like that you would much rather hear “You poor thing!” than “It could be worse!” Sure, it could be worse; it could always be worse. But, at the moment, you don’t need to be reminded of the fact that there is still more trouble that could be hidden somewhere and it is just a matter of time before it catches up with you. When you feel like that, you really would prefer some sympathy. Or, in the very least, if they don’t feel your pain they could pretend?

Life isn’t fair and the fact that some people have more money, more power, more beauty, more –– more and better of everything, is pretty good evidence of that. Sometimes you just want to sink down into the depths of the inequity and dwell in it, wallow in it and let it cover you. If you can’t overcome it, then at least you can learn to cohabit with it. If you can learn to live with your own inability or inadequacy, at least you have accomplished something of value. Unfortunately, when we open the door to defeat, we open the door to negativism and bitterness. Thus embittered, the value of life itself may become meaningless.

“One of the greatest evangelistic hymns of all time was written by a woman who knew well the release and peace that come from confessing one’s sins and failure to God. ‘Just As I Am,’ a hymn frequently sung at the close of evangelistic meetings, was written by Charlotte Elliott, who at one time had been very bitter with God about the circumstances in her life. Charlotte was an invalid from her youth and deeply resented the constraints her handicap placed on her activities. In an emotional outburst on one occasion, she expressed those feelings to Dr. Cesar Malan, a minister visiting her home. He listened and was touched by her distress, but he insisted that her problems should not divert her attention from what she most needed to hear. He challenged her to turn her life over to God, to come to Him just as she was, with all her bitterness and anger.

She resented what seemed to be an almost callous attitude on his part, but God spoke to her through him, and she committed her life to the Lord. Each year on the anniversary of that decision, Dr. Malan wrote Charlotte a letter, encouraging her to continue to be strong in the faith. But even as a Christian she had doubts and struggles. One particularly sore point was her inability to effectively got out and serve the Lord. At times she almost resented her brother’s successful preaching and evangelistic ministry. She longed to be used of God herself, but she felt that her health and physical condition prevented it. Then in 1836, on the fourteenth anniversary of her conversion, while she was alone in the evening, the forty-seven-year-old Charlotte Elliott wrote her spiritual autobiography in verse. Here, in the prayer of confession, she poured out her feelings to God––feelings that countless individuals have identified with in the generations that followed. The third stanza, perhaps more than the others, described her pilgrimage: Just as I am, tho tossed about––With many a conflict, many a doubt,––Fightings and fears within, without,––O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

Many years later, when reflecting on the impact his sister made in penning this one hymn, the Reverend Henry...

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