There is a big difference between letting go of the things we hold onto and being released from the things that hold onto us. Both are a necessary part of the spiritual journey, but the dynamics of each is quite different. Both involve the idea of release—on the one hand releasing, and on the other, being released from. But one places the ball firmly in our court—by the grace of God—and the other involves something that is completely out of our hands. For example, you can let go of something that has a hold on you, but that still doesn’t let you go. It still doesn’t offer you true freedom; that takes a power outside of yourself. To some degree you control letting go, but you have little to no control over being let go of. That takes an act of God.
That’s where redemption comes in. In its purest form, redemption means to be bought back out of the bonds of slavery. It means to be released, to be set free. Thus, redemption is a work of God, not something we can do for ourselves, which puts us in a place of powerlessness, helplessness, dependence, and vulnerability. A place where God does some of his very best work. Redemption has nothing to do with how strong and capable we are. It has nothing to do with how hard we try. It depends totally on the strength of our God. What if most of our problems in the spiritual journey come from trying to do for ourselves what only God can do for us?
For instance, Psalm 103 doesn’t say, “I pulled myself up out of the pit," or "I figured out how to climb out of the pit,” but, “He redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion.” (Psalm 103:4) Thanks be to God, who does something for us that we cannot do ourselves—he redeems us!
Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you alone can redeem us. Forgive us when we keep trying to redeem ourselves.