Level Ground Dust

 

2011, Lent. Last night I received the external mark of penitence with the imposition of ashes: the sign of the cross placed on my forehead. I was reminded:  “Dust you are and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). 

 After the imposition of the ashes our congregation knelt and we confessed sin.  The rector then spoke over us forgiveness and absolution from sin. We then celebrated the Great Feast of Thanksgiving. I received the Eucharist and returned to my seat. 

While others in the congregation went forward to receive the Eucharist, the choir and congregation sang hymns and choruses. It was during this time that the organ began to play “Just As I Am”.  Immediately I recalled the Greater Chicago Billy Graham Crusade I had attended in 1971.

The Crusade took place in Chicago’s huge convention center, McCormick Place.  The convention center at that time was the largest indoor arena in the United States.  Over 18,000 people gathered for the event held during May & June of 1971. 

With other members of my church, I attended the crusade as a counselor.  The event was unforgettable:  busloads of people, thousands of voices singing, Cliff Barrows leading songs, George Beverly Shea singing solos, the Crusade Choir singing “How Great Thou Art” and of course, the preaching of Billy Graham. At seventeen years old, I was awe struck. I had never seen so many people come together for Christ.  It was foretaste of heaven for me. 

Around that time, many of my friends and I were involved in the Jesus People movement in the Chicago area.  Our simple message during the crusade: “One Way” and “Tell Billy Graham: ‘The Jesus People love him.”

At the end of Billy’s message, an invitation was given to come forward.  The choir began to sing Just As I Am.  Hundreds of people then came forward to receive the Lord into their hearts. There were people of all races and walks of life. Billy would say to the crowd, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” 

As one of many prayer counselors, I talked and prayed with those who came forward to receive Christ. Many decisions for Christ were made that day. Many lives were forever changed that day.  I was changed by the power of the Gospel. 

The Good News of Jesus Christ, “the Jesus Revolution”, is at work in me now, just as I am – level ground dust.

 

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.

 

Charlotte Elliott

One thought on “Level Ground Dust

  1. As a grade school child of the 5th grade in 1971, my father took me to one of Billy Graham’s crusades in Oakland, CA, at the Coliseum (sports stadium). I can still remember it to this day. May God rest his soul.

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