Books

Job Done

A creative rewrite of the book of Job. With lots of space for you to make your own notes and to answer back.

Buy at Amazon (£3.90)

An extract from the book

1.

This is not a book that explains the deep meaning of the book of Job. It’s not full of theology. It’s not a blow-by-blow explanation of every last jot, tittle, full stop and comma. I’m not that kind of person. I do however try and be creative, and I think that stories give us room to manoeuvre. Which is why God seems to offer us a lot of them. So this is a book with creative rewrites of the book of Job, along with some other thoughts, tangents and pieces. Plus blank pages for you to answer back. Feel free to doodle, draw, scribble, create, question, whatever… as you make your way through. Feel free to cross out or rewrite any bits too. Depending on what sort of mood you might be in. You might think of this as a kind of Job-lite. I do anyway.

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The very name of Job is problematic for us. You may have found yourself mispronouncing it from time to time, and could be forgiven for that. (I mean – is this book called Job Done or Jobe Done?) After all the name reads as if it should rhyme with snob. Or gob. Or proper job. Or the other half of Odd-… You know, that bowler-hat-throwing Bond villain who works for Goldfinger. We find in fact that it rhymes with strobe. Or probe. Or lobe. Or bibliophobe. (Someone who has a fear of books. Hopefully not this one though.) Might be easier if he was called Jab. Or Jeb. Or Jib. Or Jub. But he’s not. So we’ll press on. And to lull you into a false sense of security here’s a happy bit of the book of Job…

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The workers are getting on well, his home has been recently completed, and his barns are well on the way. There is no sign now of the scorched earth, and the loss he once knew. His large family fill the place with noise. He and his wife get along fine once more. He’s off his medication and feeling better. Kittens play in the backyard and the birds sing a happy song. He smiles as he says a prayer for his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. Life is rosy. It doesn’t end happily, because it doesn’t end. It just rolls along…

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All right, enough of that. That is to reassure you. But that is not yet. That is in 42 chapters’ time. Before all that, we have to rewind and cut to a scene in heaven…

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He enters, head high, shoulders back, face fixed in a concrete kind of stare. Eyes not moving yet somehow taking everything in. He walks as if he owns the place. The CEO. The Boss. The millionaire. And yet he’s not. And when the real Boss steps in he walks with a completely different manner. His smile is genuine, his eyes clear. No pretence, no angle. He merely nods at the others and sits, while the other guy clears his throat and sighs at the effort of having to pull out his own chair. Accusers can be like that. Ten feet above everyone else.
‘Any other business?’ the Boss asks, starting with the final point on the agenda. He often likes to upend the plan and mix things up a little.
The accuser lifts a straight finger. Says one word. No emotion.
‘Job.’
‘I know him well,’ the Boss replies, ‘a good-hearted, courageous, well-blessed man. We’re on good terms.’
‘You missed something in your analysis there,’ says the accuser, his voice cold and reptilian.
‘Oh?’
‘Yes. Wealthy. Cataclysmically wealthy.’
‘But not greedy. Not at all. Not self-serving or foolish in any way. He shares everything he has.’
‘Which makes him popular and powerful.’
‘But not power-hungry.’
‘With respect,’ says the accuser, sounding like he hasn’t got a jot of respect, ‘you’re missing the point.’
‘Which is?’
‘Oh come on! Do I have to spell it out?’
Silence. The others round the table have been watching the two ends play off each other, heads swooping right then left, like they’re at a gripping tennis match. The Boss says nothing.
‘All right, I will say it. It’s cupboard love. This good man Job, loves and serves you and does all the right things because you give him what he wants. Take it away and you won’t see him for dust. I promise you.’
And all the while a family go about their business. This day no different to any other. They have things to do, jobs to complete, children to educate and entertain. The table sits there in the sunshine, laden with breakfast. Fuel for another full day. And one by one, bleary-eyed and in various states of readiness, the family gather for another normal day.

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We have no idea what’s going on. More often than we would admit anyway. Whether it’s conspiracy theories about those in power, fears about where this world is heading, or the workings of that other dimension we think of as spiritual. We get glimpses of course, notions, ideas. And a lot of stories. Stories on the internet, over the fence, in the papers. And in the Bible. The Bible is jammed with them. Stories, analogies, metaphors, similes, parables. Tales of the expected and unexpected. From another time and another place. All intended to help us make sense of this time and this place. Paul described it as something like looking through a muddy, streaky, grimy window. I imagine being stuck in a garden shed trying to see what the weather is doing, when the state of the window makes it appear murky and overcast on any given day. I guess we have our theories, opinions and certainties about the way of things, because we need some sense of being in control, of being able to cope, these things calm us, keep us going. But, without wishing to scare the living daylights out of any of us, we’re really never that much in control are we? If the unexpected didn’t happen each day we wouldn’t need the News at Ten. Or at Six. Or at One. Or indeed pumping out at us now 24 hours a day. The news frequently depresses me, but I can’t stop listening to it. Sometimes I sit there listening to the radio news whilst scrolling through the same stuff on my phone. At the same time!! What’s wrong with me? I don’t even believe half of what I’m fed anyway. Probably the audible equivalent of slowing down to look when a traffic accident occurs. Or watching that horror movie I know will haunt me afterwards.

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Poor Job. Well, not materially, of course, that was apparently the point. He had loads of Stuff. But poor in the sense that he had no idea what was round the corner, coming at him like a train veering off the tracks, about to destroy lives, limbs and futures. He presumably thought all was well and would be well. He was going about his day as he always did. Working, eating, laughing, caring, haggling, messing about, agreeing, disagreeing, trying to make a difference. But the difference was soon going to be all about him. Change was coming, and he had no idea. In his show Drops Like Stars, Rob Bell described trouble coming into our lives like this: you go to the theatre, all togged up, ready for the best night out, and as you sit down the usher holds out his white gloved hand. You look. There, sitting looking at you, is a squirrel. And you think, what am I supposed to do with that, I didn’t come here for a squirrel. Suddenly the outlook has shifted.
Well Job’s outlook is shifting even as he sips his expensive breakfast coffee. And he has no idea.
What do you think?

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2.

Job sips his coffee, enjoys the sun on his face. Not too far away, beyond a couple of hedges, a sneering raider slashes at the head of the farmer. He can sense well-being in his bones, it’s going to be a good day. A bandit grabs at one of his herdsman, slices an ear off. Job stretches, smiles to himself, wonders about a quick power nap to start the day. There’s blood everywhere. And carcasses. Animals, people, bodily fluids pooling around them. Somewhere in the distance Job can hear his children whooping and playing. The best sound in the world. A sudden wind cools him, rushes across his face. Then an unexpected blast of heat. This weather! So up and down. Still, it’s nothing to bother about. Dozing, that’s what matters right now. A rider. The hooves of his horse pound like punches as he comes raging across the land like a reckless storm. Job opens a lazy eyelid, takes a look. He can see the man’s face now. Red with exertion. And something else. Something crimson lying in smudged trails on his cheeks. Job sits up, the well-being draining from his bones.
‘What is it?’ he asks.
The rider collapses off the horse before the animal has even stopped properly.
‘Sir… a terrible thing…’
The coffee spills as he stands, his chair flips backwards, upended. Job opens his mouth but can make no sound.
‘Raiders… bandits… they’ve killed your men… plundered your animals…’
There’s an acrid smell in the air. Job hasn’t noticed it till now. What is it? Burning? More hooves. Another rider. His face blackened and scorched.
‘Fire, my Lord, just… fell… burned up your people and your flocks. It’s a hell of a mess sir. I don’t think anyone is left…’
Surely that’s not a third rider? And then Job notices. The sound of his children whooping and playing… it’s stopped. There’s only a terrible silence. Before the messenger opens his jaws Job knows. The worst. The mountains have fallen. The heavens have come to bury him. He can hardly breathe.
‘Sir, your family… they’re gone…’
‘Gone? What do you mean?’
‘There’s been a terrible accident. Fatalities.’
‘How many?’ he gasps.
The messenger hardly dares reply. His words come quietly.
‘All of them. Everyone. A tornado… the barns fell… the ground split…’
Job spins on the spot. He felt no tornado. No fire. A breath of wind yes, a gust of warmth… but surely… there’s been a mistake hasn’t there? His house is still standing. There’s no damage here. He stares at the three messengers. Dishevelled. Broken. Lost for any words of comfort or hope. They daren’t sob or cry out at the moment, not in the boss’s presence. But it’s etched in their marred features.

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Buy at Amazon (£3.90)