Don’t break your pot at the door.
Many years ago, long before a people with a different color of skin and customs discovered a beautiful and richly endowed continent called Africa, when the lions and hyenas roamed the grasslands freely, when the only reason you’d be found outside your house at night, was because you preferred to exercise at that hour in your baby suit, yes many years ago. The people in this part of the world had quite an interesting way of life.
A normal day’s routine in the life of the women folk would be; Wake up early in the morning while it was still dark. Using a light from the fireplace, she would sweep her house, prepare the day’s meal and leave it on a slow fire to cook. Then she would pick a hoe or jembe, a pot for collecting water, a basket for food and head out to the fields which were quite a distance from the homesteads, just as the first rays of sun started to pop over the horizon.
She would work in her fields, planting, weeding or harvesting depending on the season, then pick some food especially tubers such us potatoes or cassava, gather firewood and collect water.
Most of the area was forest and uninhabited so firewood wasn’t hard to find. Water was collected from natural springs, carried and stored in clay pots. It wasn’t contaminated and could be drank directly from the spring.
Everything collected, she would then tie her firewood on the back, place her pot full of water on her head then balancing it with amazing skill, pick her basket of food and head back home to go and serve the meal she left cooking.
Houses or huts were round structures with very low doors. The threshold was raised to prevent water from flooding into the house whenever there was rain and also to keep out unwanted visitors especially the slithery and sly type. this arrangement however, posed a challenge; For one to get in they had to bend or stoop real low and at the same time lift their legs slightly.
Now picture a woman carrying a pot of water on her head after many hours of working in the field and the long trek back home heavily loaded. The long distance back home would not be devoid of difficult. She could stub her toe on a way ward stone or get pricked by thorns. She walked through rough terrain and hazardous situations and probably shooed away some wild animals that could have tried to turn her into a tasty dish. All the while the pot stayed safe on the head. She was carrying a precious commodity to meet the needs of her household.
Losing it would mean another trek back to the spring. Not desirable.
Eventually she would get home. The firewood and food basket could be dropped anywhere within the homestead. They could be retrieved any time.
Now the water pot.
It couldn’t be left outside. She had to place it inside the house. She had two options or ways to go about it. She could enter the house with the pot on her head while bending at the knees. If the calculation of the height of the door was not perfect she would knock the pot on the head jamb. The other way, get the pot off her head and lifting with her hands in a bending posture, enter the house. In this case the risk could be either to hit it on the raised threshold or stub her toe on the threshold, loose balance and fall. Either way it was risky. Pots were made out of clay and so were quite fragile. A relatively hard knock could break it into pieces.
Unfortunately there were times when the pot broke at the door. A few steps, sometimes even one step, away from the destination, and the pot including the precious commodity it contained, that had been carefully preserved all the way was lost at the door; a few steps away from the goal.
Why would the pot break at the door? Several factors could be the cause. Probably the woman was too exhausted to lift her pot higher than the raised threshold or too tired to bend low enough.
Or fear; especially for the newly married. The pressure to make an impression would be extremely high and God forbid her mother in law was around watching her; then her hands and feet would become shaky compromising her hold.
Or the feeling she had already arrived anyway and then she would throw all caution to the wind.
Whatever the cause, fear, exhaustion or plain carelessness, it would impair her judgment of the last hurdle to her victory leading to unfortunate loss.
The phrase ‘the pot breaks at the door’ was now used to refer to other instances where someone had endured and overcame so much and then just at the brink of actualizing the dream, he lost it.
A great but sad example of the pot breaking at the door is the story of the Israelites. They had been enslaved for about 400 years and so the prospects of freedom must have been overwhelming. With 10 major acts of show of power the God of heaven forced their master Pharaoh to set them free.
With another show of might and power he parted the Red sea and they walked on dry ground. Their Egyptian pursuers being presumptuous attempted the same feat and boy! did God enjoy the drama! Scripture reports that in the morning He looked at the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud and troubled them. He took of their Chariot wheels and suddenly the dry ground became soggy. The Egyptian army realizing their horrible mistake decided to turn back. Too late! It was time for the highlight of the performance. Moses on God’s instruction lifted his rod and the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen and all the host of pharaoh.
Interestingly and worth to note is;
‘The Israelites saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians.’ (Exodus 14:31.)
Through the desert he took them. He was their baker, they ate bread he delivered from the kitchens of heaven. I can imagine the angels in their aprons mixing up the corn of heaven and putting the bread in the ovens preparing it at night getting ready to deliver the food at dawn. Wow! This will be a story for another day. He was their tailor. No wonder their clothes never wore out nor did they out grow them. I mean, if God is the ‘seamster’ the clothes will get a living disposition. And their shoes too. He was their cobbler.
On reaching Kadesh Barnea they sent 12 spies to search out the land of Canaan. Kadesh Barnea is 11 days journey to Canaan. The instructions were clear; Moses told them how to get there; “Go North from here into the Southern part of the land of Canaan and then on into the hill country.”
Specified what to look for; “Find out what kind of country it is, how many people live there and how strong they are, find out whether the land is good or bad and whether the people live in open towns or fortified cities. Find out whether the soil is fertile and whether the land is wooded. And be sure to bring back some of the fruit that grows there.”
So they went. They explored the land for 40 days.
Then they brought back the report. ”We went into the land to which you sent us and it does flow with milk and honey. Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful and the cities fortified and very large. We even saw the descendants of Anak there.”
The reporter must have sounded nervous, for Caleb quickly added, “We should go up and take possession of the land for we can certainly do it.”
Ah! Ah! ……The reporter cast an irritated sideways glance in Caleb’s direction, ignored the interjection and went on assessing their strength and came up with a verdict. ”We can’t attack those people they are stronger than we are.” And they spread a bad report among the Israelites. “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them.” (Emphasis mine.)
Honestly if the land they explored devoured its inhabitants then who had they seen? And how come they lived to tell the tale? How about calling to remembrance the miracle deliverance from Egypt? It had just happened about 14 days before! Or the major performance on the Red Sea? He had assured them that they wouldn’t see the Egyptians again and he ensured that they saw him getting rid of them. No backdoor fishy disappearances. Wasn’t this the same God!(Talk about extravagant forgetfulness!).
This people were on the brink of their miracle. 11 days away from the Promised Land. They had evidence of the goodness of the land; enough to motivate them to want to be there. One bunch of grapes was so heavy it took two men to carry on a pole between them. (I wonder where the miserly variant of grapes we have today emerged from!)
God who had promised the land to them had proved Himself in the amazing deliverance from Egyptians able to subdue any other foe that assailed them. However through their grasshopper attitude they were robbed of their future and subjected to wandering in the desert. For the next 40 years they wandered in the desert 11 days journey away from their destination. God’s intention wasn’t just to make them go round in circles but to get rid of the doubting batch.
The pot broke at the door!
Only Caleb, Joshua and the younger people lived to see the land that had been promised to the whole community when they came out of Egypt. In the fullness of time they subdued and possessed it as had been promised.
Fear has the potential to rob us of our destiny. The devil being a thief and a robber employs it a lot by manipulating us into a fearful state and inflating the challenge. The first thing fear does is to minimize you in your own eyes. “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes”. Then convince you that the other person has a similar perception. “We looked the same to them.”
It is just a perception.
Leave the grasshopper paradigm behind. How do you know what others think about you anyway? The Israelites later found out that their enemies had heard about their dramatic departure from Egypt and were themselves terrified!
What is standing at the brink of your success? What giants are in the way to the break through? Or hindering the achievement of resolutions made and other goals? It is interesting how the battle becomes toughest almost at the end of the course. Choose to deliberately remember the miraculous deliverances you have seen.
The Egyptians you see today you will see them no more. Yap! The giants that are in the Promised Land you will see them know more. They have already heard about your exploits and are fearful. The giants may not hold you back but fear can snatch the victory out of reach. Let’s not allow it. We are well able to finish whatever we start successfully. Its darkest just before dawn. We must have faith and trust that the God who promised is not only able but Faithful. Fear, exhaustion or plain carelessness will not break our pot at the door.
Awake awake put on thy strength oh Zion…Isaiah 52:1