11 March 2006

Pottery, Pain and Pastiche

I found this porcelain dish at Goodwill for $1. Perfect for a homeschool object lesson.

Job was a man who lived in Uz. He was honest inside and out, a man of his word, who was totally devoted to God and hated evil with a passion. He had seven sons and three daughters. He was also very wealthy--seven thousand head of sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred teams of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a huge staff of servants--the most influential man in all the East!
GOD said to Satan, "Have you noticed my friend Job? There's no one quite like him--honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil."
God considered Job a beautiful and useful piece of pottery. Worth showing off! (We showed off our dish by serving grapes and apple slices in it.)

Satan retorted, "So do you think Job does all that out of the sheer goodness of his heart? Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does--he can't lose!
But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He'd curse you right to your face, that's what."
My paraphrase: "Of course you keep the fancy china on the top shelf and handle it with kid gloves. Try puttin' that puppy in the oven and see what happens!"

GOD replied, "We'll see. Go ahead--do what you want with all that is his. Just don't hurt him."

One useful and beautiful piece of pottery + one hammer=

Sometime later, while Job's children were having one of their parties at the home of the oldest son, a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys grazing in the field next to us when Sabeans attacked. They stole the animals and killed the field hands. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened." Disbelief.

While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, "Bolts of lightning struck the sheep and the shepherds and fried them--burned them to a crisp. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened."

While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, "Chaldeans coming from three directions raided the camels and massacred the camel drivers. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened." Shock.

While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, "Your children were having a party at the home of the oldest brother when a tornado swept in off the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they died. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened." A flood of tears.

If we were crying over the loss of our $1 porcelain dish, how was Job feeling?

"Why does God bother giving light to the miserable,
why bother keeping bitter people alive,
Those who want in the worst way to die, and can't,
who can't imagine anything better than death,
Who count the day of their death and burial
the happiest day of their life?
What's the point of life when it doesn't make sense,
when God blocks all the roads to meaning?
"Instead of bread I get groans for my supper,
then leave the table and vomit my anguish.
The worst of my fears has come true,
what I've dreaded most has happened.
My repose is shattered, my peace destroyed.
No rest for me, ever--death has invaded life.

You made me like a handcrafted piece of pottery--
and now are you going to smash me to pieces?
Don't you remember how beautifully you worked my clay?
Will you reduce me now to a mud pie?"

God had other plans for his highly- prized- and-now-shattered-Job. The Maker was not finished with the clay.

God said to Job, "Where were you when I created the earth?
Tell me, since you know so much!
Who decided on its size? Certainly you'll know that!
Who came up with the blueprints and measurements?
How was its foundation poured,
and who set the cornerstone,
While the morning stars sang in chorus
and all the angels shouted praise?"

"And have you ever ordered Morning, "Get up!'
told Dawn, "Get to work!'
So you could seize Earth like a blanket
and shake out the wicked like cockroaches?

"Have you ever traveled to where snow is made,
seen the vault where hail is stockpiled,
The arsenals of hail and snow that I keep in readiness
for times of trouble and battle and war?
Can you find your way to where lightning is launched,
or to the place from which the wind blows?

Who do you suppose carves canyons
for the downpours of rain, and charts
the route of thunderstorms
That bring water to unvisited fields,
deserts no one ever lays eyes on,
Drenching the useless wastelands
so they're carpeted with wildflowers and grass?

God, the Potter, was RE-creating his "Job clay" into something beautiful. Job was encountering the love and authority of his maker in a new way.

Job answered GOD,"I'm convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. You asked, "Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?' I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head. You told me, "Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.' I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand--from my own eyes and ears! I'm sorry--forgive me. I'll never do that again, I promise! I'll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor."

We re-created our beloved porcelain dish into stepping stones for our garden.

GOD blessed Job's later life even more than his earlier life. He ended up with fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand teams of oxen, and one thousand donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters.
Job lived on another hundred and forty years, living to see his children and grandchildren--four generations of them! Then he died--an old man, a full life.


Blogger Sarah said...

Love this!

3:16 PM  
Blogger Sprittibee said...

What blessed children you have... and such a Spirit-led lesson. How inspiring.

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Erica said...

I love coming in here every so often and just reading everything you write...sort of like catching up on what's going on with you, and also for me to learn something new. Miss you my friend!!!

1:58 PM  

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