“Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful; all of us have become like unclean people, all our good deeds are like polluted rags… Yet, O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.” –Isaiah 64:4-5, 7
I think the most fundamental truth that every human being must come to realize is this: we need a Savior. We are human, and as such, are imperfect in nature and will. We are all mired by the effects of sin; stuck in the quicksand of our faults and weaknesses. Although we may desire and actively strive to be free from this quicksand, it is impossible to do on our own.
Our situation is very much like the alcohol or drug addict, in that we are out of control of our own salvation. For the addict, there is nothing he or she can do to lift him or herself out of the problem. He/she tends to make the situation worse when they do try. In the twelve-step recovery program, a person having hit rock bottom must turn his or her life over to a higher power; must surrender to a force beyond his or her own will. Why? Because his or her will is the problem. We balk when we hear someone say, “I am going to solve my drug problem,” because their will is so tainted by it. An exertion of their tainted will is not going to solve the problem.
This is my situation, and your situation, in our spiritual lives. Just as the addict needs an intervention and a higher power to break in and lift the person out of the problem, so do we need a Savior to come in and heal us. We cannot achieve it on our own by an act of our own will.
The concluding verse here from Isaiah gives us a comforting image: “Yet, O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.”
What we need is the intervention of a loving God who will shape us anew. Because He does indeed reshape us into His beautiful instruments when we recognize these truths and surrender to Him! Do you believe this? Do you feel it in the depths of your heart that you need a Savior? This is square one for all of us who desire salvation.
As we enter into this season of Advent—this season of waiting and anticipation—let us reflect on our need of Jesus, the reason for His incarnation. If we can open ourselves to this need that we have, then we will be able to receive all that He has to offer. +
The content of this post was inspired by Father Robert Barron’s homily for the First Sunday of Advent. Listen to his moving homily here!