After a close-call episode involving a plunge into a freezing lake, psychiatrist Dr. Winston gently but firmly laid it on the line to Johnny: “I’ve never known of anyone as far gone as you are to really whip it. Only you can do it, and it would be a lot easier if you let God help you.”
Cash knew he was right. God had been waiting all this time for him to come back. June and Dr. Winston would do all they could for him, but unless Cash himself summoned the fortitude and discipline required, the battle would never be won. For that he needed God’s help more than ever. He had to ask for and depend on it.
The time had come for the redemption of Johnny Cash. But one cannot redeem themselves. Only God can do it. The word redeem literally means, “to buy out of a slave market.” Cash was a slave to drugs, among other things. Only Jesus Christ could redeem him, and the singer knew that.
After ten days of intense withdrawals and detox, Johnny emerged a healthier man. Johnny played his first clean performance in years, and felt God’s presence, ending the show with an old hymn. Johnny was getting back to his gospel roots, but, more importantly, back to God Himself.
The redemption had started.
1. In [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. . . . In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:7, 13–14)
How is Jesus Christ able to redeem us? What do we need to do to be redeemed?
2. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. (Romans 6:5–6)
What sins have you been a slave to in the past?
3. But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. (Isaiah 43:1–2)
God saw Johnny through countless near-death experiences as well as an intense detoxification period. What extraordinary circumstances has He seen you through?
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My new book was written with nonbelievers in mind. In addition to telling the story of Johnny Cash’s life, it presents the gospel clearly. Get a copy of Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon to give away as an evangelism tool this September.Give here