Hymn History: “Have Thine Own Way, Lord”

2 min

Adelaide Pollard was discouraged. As she sat in a prayer meeting, doubts and disappointments engulfed her. She had prepared to go to Africa as a missionary, but her hopes were dashed when she was unable to raise enough financial support. 

Nearby, an elderly lady was praying. Miss Pollard overheard her say, “It is all right, Lord! It doesn’t matter what You bring into our lives; just have Your own way with us!”

Miss Pollard was struck by the older woman’s fervent desire for God’s will rather than her own. Pondering the lady’s prayer of yieldedness, Miss Pollard resolved to submit herself anew to God and His will. She felt her sadness lift, replaced with hopefulness.

That evening, the praying woman’s words resonated as Miss Pollard read Jeremiah 18:3–4: “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.” The overheard prayer combined with Scriptural truth impacted Miss Pollard that night. Realizing that she was clay in the hands of the Master Potter, she again gave her hopes and plans to God. Resolving to be humble, pliable clay in God’s hands, she wrote the hymn “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” The words voiced the commitment in her heart:

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.

Miss Pollard may have thought she was giving up ministry in Africa when she wrote her hymn. However, to her great joy, later God did send her to Africa for a short time. She remained there until World War I began, at which time she fled to Scotland. Later, she returned to the United States and continued in Christian ministry. 

The character quality flexibility is defined as “not setting my affections on ideas or plans that could be changed by God or others.” Miss Pollard’s life illustrated flexibility as she yielded to fulfill God’s will rather than her own ambitions. The closing verses declare her heart’s desire: “Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see Christ only, always, living in me.”

May we remember that we are clay in the hands of a loving Heavenly Potter Who does all things well. Let us be flexible regarding our plans and dreams, submitting ourselves to God and yielding to His plans for us. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).

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