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Published on February 26th, 2014 | by Jeff Price

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“Count It All Joy…”

Charlotte was young, beautiful, well cultured, highly intelligent and very talented.  She had dreams, as we all do, of making a living doing the things she loved, and as a refined young lady of the 19th century, she was well on her way to bringing those dreams to fruition as her poetry and artwork had begun to gain more and more recognition.  Yes, things were certainly looking up for this carefree young woman.  It seemed she had it made.  But then, the illness began to set in.

One evening, in 1822, Charlotte was holding one of her renowned verse recitals.  Amongst the fawning listeners was Dr. Caesar Milan, a pastor from Switzerland.  At the close of the recital, Reverend Milan approached Charlotte to both commend Charlotte and to share with her what the Lord had put on his heart to impart to her.  “Young lady,” he began in a gentle tone, “your talent and beauty are undoubtedly a thing of wonder. But, you must consider this; without Jesus, you are no better than the lowest prostitute on our streets!” Charlotte was taken aback to say the least.  By this time, her poor health had given way to continual, almost severe pain and she was struggling with occasional feelings of malevolence toward all things religious.  In response to the pastor’s comment, she asserted that religion was not a matter she had wished to discuss at that time and bid him fare well. 

But the pastor’s admonishment had struck a chord within her.  A couple of weeks later, after her irritation had given way concern, she sought him out.  “I am miserable,” she confided, “I know I need Jesus and I want to come to Him, but I know not how”.  To this the pastor replied, “You need only to come to Him just as you are”.  This was the turning point in Charlotte’s life and Pastor Milan’s words had etched themselves into her heart.

Years passed and Charlotte’s health declined.  The threat of paralysis that had loomed over her life for so many years had finally gained purchase, but she refused to relent to depression.  She continued to pen poems and even began writing hymns as well.  It was during this period in her life that she composed a maxim from which she drew strength and with which she inspired others.  “My Heavenly Father knows, and He alone, what it is, day after day, and hour after hour, to fight against bodily feelings of almost overpowering weakness and languor and exhaustion, to resolve, as He enables me to do, not to yield to the slothfulness, the depression, the irritability, such as a body causes me to long to indulge, but to rise every morning determined on taking this for my motto, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.’ “

Thirteen years after her life changing encounter with Pastor Milan, Charlotte’s brother, Reverend Henry Elliott, had undertaken to hold an event to raise funds for a school of higher education for daughters of clergymen.  Charlotte’s feelings of uselessness were magnified by her desire to contribute her efforts to the occasion with no viable means to do so.  She was feeling both defeated and deflated.  But, Charlotte did not withdraw into an inner sense of self-pity and melancholy.  Instead, she reflected on God, His power and His promise.  She also reflected on that day nearly thirteen years prior when Pastor Milan had uttered the words that would resonate throughout the rest of her life.  And putting her emotions to paper in an effort to find solace in the gift the Lord had given her, she wrote the following:

Just as I am, without one plea,

But that thy blood was shed for me,

And that thou bidst 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 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.

In penning these words, Charlotte was able to find comfort in the assurance of the Gospel and her own salvation.  Little did she know that those words would be put to music by Thomas Hastings years later and would be giving others comfort in the assurance in the Gospel and salvation for close to a century.

Charlotte Elliott’s life is a good example for all Christians.  To varying degrees, we each suffer, whether we are Christian or not.  God doesn’t promise that life will get better once we become a Christian.  In fact, life will likely get worse because we become an enemy of Satan and his minion.  But, like Charlotte, we Christians can find peace in the knowledge that, no matter how much we suffer in this life, all suffering will be ended in the next.  Through pain and suffering, doubt and emptiness, Charlotte Elliott placed her trust in the Lord and remained steadfast in her convictions toward Him.  She maintained her resolve to be a servant for God in this world even though she was met with more opposition than most of us will ever have to face in our own Christian walk.  Let us all pray to have the resolve, conviction and the servant heart of Charlotte Elliott

 

 

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About the Author

For over twenty years, I have been an active member in each church I have attended, fulfilling duties ranging from worship leader to elder and occasionally, pastor. I see the gift of music as a tool to be used in the privileged roll of being able to take others to a whole other level of worship and I thoroughly enjoy using my musical abilities in the service of God and His people. I look forward to sharing thoughts, topics and editorials through this web site and sharing God with Christians and non-Christians alike.



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