It has always been said that smooth continuity was not to be expected in the process of teshuvah, that at some point a leap would have to be taken from one realm to another.
The exodus from Egypt, considered the archetype of spiritual liberation, takes place in two stages: the moment of hesitation and the moment of release.
The Jewish people hesitate at the shore of the Red Sea, then, suddenly, Nahshon leaps into the deep water.
In other words, even with the help of numerous miracles and the pressure of a cruel enemy in hot pursuit, a crucial pause halts the steady onward march.
One runs up against a barrier that cannot be traversed except by making a bold decision, taking a chance, and jumping.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From "Teshuvah in the Modern World" from Teshuvah: A Guide for the Newly Observant Jew by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz