FOR TODAY Listen to Johnny Cash's shortened version of the hymn "Just As I Am." Read the lyrics.
Just as I am, without one plea But that Thy blood was shed for me And that Thou bid'st me come to Thee O Lamb of God, I come! I come Just as I am, though tossed about With many a conflict, many a doubt Fighting and fears within without 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, without one plea But that Thy blood was shed for me And that Thou bid'st me come to Thee O Lamb of God, I come! I come
Some of us may have been to evangelical types of revivals in the past and know this song to be used often as an “altar call”; it is a song that beckons the wayward sinner to come forward just as he/she is to be forgiven and claimed by Christ. Even those with a cursory awareness of Johnny Cash’s legacy know that he had some rough edges throughout his life and struggled with drug addiction and even with his own outlaw image. Johnny was well known and worked with many people throughout his career—from Paul McCartney to Billy Graham. He eventually became famous for being the “man in black." Many people do not know why Johnny took on this look of the “man in black." His biographer writes, “Cash said he wore all black on behalf of the poor and hungry, the ‘prisoner who has long paid for his crime,' and those who have been betrayed by age or drugs.” Johnny Cash added, "With the Vietnam War as painful in my mind as it was in most other Americans, I wore it 'in mournin' for the lives that could have been...Apart from the Vietnam War being over, I don't see much reason to change my position...The old are still neglected, the poor are still poor, the young are still dying before their time, and we're not making many moves to make things right. There's still plenty of darkness to carry off.”
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION As you listen to the song, “Just as I am,” what feelings are stirred in your soul? As we move toward our revival, what darkness do you imagine needing to be "carried off" as Johnny references? In what specific ways can we wed our hearts to justice by carrying off darkness to find light in the shadows?
Focusing on the word "just" may strike many as an odd theme in our journey to revival; but, this week and subsequent ones will move us more directly towards the theme of our revival: Just Mercy, Just Jesus. We have heard the prophets of old and of our current time speak of a longing for a "just" society. In that sense, we long for what is right and good and lawful. At other times, we use the word "just" to reduce something to the basics, to what is essential, or to be dismissive. As we move through this week, a key aspect of being prepared and moved by a revival is getting in touch of the essentials in our relationship with God and with others. Find all previous daily devotionals here