When I would sing the first stanza from the old hymn "Have Thine Own Way, Lord!" I thought the verse had a gentle sentiment: Mold me, make me. I could envision the gentle hand of the potter forming the clay as it spun on the wheel. The potter knowing that with any wrong move the clay would crumple into a heap on the wheel.
That was what I thought until I saw a pottery demonstration. We had gone to Eureka Springs to see The Great Passion Play. While waiting for the gates to open, we walked around and happened onto the pottery demonstration being given by the actor that would portray Jesus in the play that evening. I watched as he picked up a clump of clay and began forming it into a ball; gently rolling it around in his hands. Suddenly, he hit the clay with his fist and began pulling on it before forming a ball again. He repeated this a couple of times, explaining as he went that he had to soften up the clay and make it compliant before he could make anything.
I have thought about this scene and hymn more than a few times the past couple of months. Putting the two of them together, I have come to the conclusion that when Jesus is the potter, sometimes before Jesus can use you, He has to make you useful. Yes, it maybe uncomfortable and at times painful, but when He is done, you realize that through the pain, He has made something wonderful.