Just as I am
Just as I am. Four powerful words. And for some reason, I’m just now becoming fixed on the true impact of what they mean. Probably the most recognized hymn in the whole world … in all languages … among all peoples … all denominations and gatherings since it was first introduced in the mid-1800s. Just as I am.
I’m not sure why these words have captured my heart and mind all of a sudden. I have sung and played it (literally) hundreds of times in churches, when I’ve gone to various Billy Graham crusades, many retreats and campfire services throughout my life, but for some reason, these simple words have spoken to me recently.
Partly, these words have come to mean more since I’ve joined with the United Methodist Church were I’ve learned and seen more about grace and mercy than I have ever before. They are no longer just sermon words and theological points that I’ve heard all my life; now, they are becoming a lifestyle. And I am blooming and growing. This change in me has opened all the receptors in my mind and heart for “old things becoming new.” Like the phrase, “Just as I am.” Or, it may be that as I grow older and continue to travel my self-imposed path of living simpler, that these words have finally found a space to take root.
Where I’m going with this is, well, it’s simple. God accepts me just as I am. Jimmy Cochran. Now, in my seventh decade of life and after serving in various forms of ministry for forty years, I’m finally catching on. Just as I am. I am an ordained Minister, set apart to lead people to Christ and show them the way to peace and joy and the comfort that God brings … yet, I don’t always act like it. I make mistakes and may blow my witness at times. Yet, God accepts me. Just As I Am.
These past few months I have seen family and close friends go through undeserved sadness and grief. Friends and family have died, contracted diseases and treatments are not successful, the loss of jobs and dreams … and I have been angry at God for allowing this to happen to my people, my family, my friends. Yet, God still loves me and comforts me. Just As I Am.
Our world is falling apart around our feet with war, disease, weather-related tragedies, hate and bigotry … and we pray and pray … yet, it doesn’t seem to get better, only worse. And I fear for the future of our students and children. I wonder what will become of the Church in years to come. I think about my future health and finances. And yet, in the midst of my worries and anxieties, God is there letting me know that life will be okay. If I let Him in my heart and lead me where I should be going. And relax in His care. Just As I Am.
You see, I am realizing each day that God’s grace supersedes what I bring to the table. My worry, my fears, my anger, my stupidity, my ignorance … all of it. I deserve for Him to laugh me off as a lost cause and move on to better people. But, God’s grace overcomes that and allows Him to accept me. Just As I Am.
And the beauty is that He will accept you under the same grace and mercy. Just As You Are.
And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to very warty and messed up Jimmy. Just. As. I. Am.
Jimmy Cochran is a resident of McDonough, a musician, a minister and the author of “Being God’s” and “Staying God’s,” both available at Amazon.com.