In my forthcoming book Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels, I make the point that "those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs" (Jonah 2:8). In other words, when we depend on anything smaller than Jesus for justification, love, mercy, cleansing, a new beginning, approval, acceptance, righteousness, and rescue we consign ourselves to "the restless futility of bewilderment" because nothing and no one but Jesus can provide those things we long for most.
I close the book with a story from Civil War days before America's slaves were freed, about a northerner who went to a slave auction and purchased a young slave girl. As they walked away from the auction, the man turned to the girl and told her, "You're free."
With amazement she responded, "You mean, I'm free to do whatever I want?"
"Yes," he said.
"And to say whatever I want to say?"
"And to be whatever I want to be?"
"And even go wherever I want to go?"
"Yes," he answered with a smile. "You're free to go wherever you'd like."
She looked at him intently and replied, "Then I will go with you."
Jesus has come to the slave market. He came to us there because we could not go to him. He came and purchased us with his blood so we would no longer be a slave to sin but a slave to Christ—which is the essence of freedom. And now there's no freer place to be in life than going with him—with the one who is himself our true liberty.
Remember: In the person of Jesus Christ, God came into this world, not to strip away our freedom, but to strip away our slavery to self so that we could be truly free.