Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still. — Adelaide A. Pollard
I was reminded of this hymn this week when Jeremiah 18 was discussed briefly in a class I attended. There are two things about this text that are special to me. First, it’s one of the old hymns that is very intimateâ€”addressed to God. I have been told many times how much more intimate the modern choruses are than the old hymns, and each time I remember some of my favorites that are very intimate. Now don’t get me wrong here. I like many modern praise choruses, but I also really like going back to some of these hymns! (Check out the entire hymn in The Cyber Hymnal.)
When you sing this song, as I think many of us have, how does it make you feel? Is being clay a good or a bad thing? Is it something to celebrate, or something you surrender to and tolerate so you can get to the better stuff?
Let’s listen to Jeremiah:
1This is the message that came to Jeremiah from YHWH:
2“Get up and go down to the potter’s workshop, and I will let you hear my messages there.”
3So I went down to the potter’s workshop, and there he was working on a project on the potter’s wheel. 4But the piece he was making from the clay was ruined as he shaped it, so he went back and made it into a different piece, doing as it seemed right to him.
5Then the message of YHWH came to me:
6“Can I not do to you what this potter has done, House of Israel?” A declaration of YHWH: “Look! Like clay in the hands of the potter so are you in my hands, House of Israel.” — Jeremiah 18:1-6
I recommend you read the rest of the chapter as well if you have time, but let me summarize. God continues by telling Jeremiah that if he promises good things to a nation and that nation turns to evil, he will repent of the good he had promised. On the other hand if a nation has done evil and has been promised disaster, but they repent, he will repent of the disaster he intended to send.
So there’s a tough side to this message. In God’s hands we are clay, and if things aren’t working out, he can smash us into a lump of unformed clay and then form us as he wishes. If we’re getting too proud of ourselves, and thinking we’re shaping up pretty nicely, that is a message we should consider.
But on the other hand it is a message of hope. If we are shaping up very badly, and things just aren’t working out, we serve a God who can go back to the â€œformless and emptyâ€ (Genesis 1:2) lump of clay and reshape things from the ground up. That’s a message of God’s sanctifying grace in your life.
The author of the hymn â€œHave Thine Own Wayâ€ wanted to go to Africa. I’m reminded of the humorous song â€œPlease Don’t Send me to Africa.â€ But this lady wanted to go and be used by God but she couldn’t raise the money. At a prayer meeting she heard a prayer of surrender, and went home and wrote this hymn.
God’s love has it’s tough aspect. There’s that possibility of being smashed into a lump of clay to start over. But there’s also the constant hope that no matter how misshapen the clay gets, God can shape it into something wonderful.
Are you willing to be clay?