Catching Up

I am starting this blog a bit late (see Background), although I have been preparing/writing separately.  My initial post is actually the entries of my earlier off-line “blogs” to date:

Day 5 (Sunday, May 7, 2012)

What a wonderful day! Church in the morning, followed by an outside early lunch at Aladdin’s (healthy ☺) with Diane, Mallory, Cara, and my mom.  The sky was blue and the sun was shining, and it was warm and wonderful for us.  For the first time in five days I was able to enjoy those moments for what they were – precious time with loved ones amidst the blessings of God.  It seemed to me, as well, that Diane and my mom likewise were plugged into the moment, the time together, the beauty of it all – the sun, the sky, the exotic foods, our family, rest.  Nothing else mattered but that we were together, enjoying God’s creation together as a gift from Him.   Moments from Him.  And then I saw a text from Frank:  “live IN the moment.  I’m praying for you at this moment!”  Wow!  God had raised up Frank to pray this for us, God answered his prayer by focusing us so compellingly on enjoying the moments and giving us the grace to do so, and then God told us, showed us, through Frank’s text, that He was invested in these moments, invested in us.  How marvelous(!), how wonderful(!), is our Savior’s love for us!  Oh how important are your prayers!!  Thank you!  They are being heard, and they are being answered, by our Abba Father who loves us so.

After we got home we meandered out to the 5-acre lake behind our house, dogs and cat in tow, and sat quietly in warm sunshine and a small breeze, each reading something or other.  As we sat there, I thought, “I’m going to die.”  Not that I’m going to die soon or anything, just the fact that, someday, “I’m going to die.”  It kind of surprised me.  “I am going to die!”

“I.  Am.  Going.  To.  Die.”

It surprised me because I’ve lived my life as if I’m not going to die.  Ever.  I may throw an occasional acknowledgment toward death, but that’s really about it.  And as this realization hit me, that I’m going to die, I thought, “really, in this regard, nothing’s changed.  Nothing’s changed.  It’s just that I now know — better than I ever have before — that I’m going to die.”  Before, I would have been sitting at the lake as a man-who-is-going-to-die living like a man-who-is-not-going-to-die (delusional!!), but now I’m sitting at the lake as a man-who-is-going-to-die, living more and more, I believe, like a man-who-is-going-to-die.  I can’t wait to see what that looks like as it takes deeper and deeper hold.  And I hope and pray it looks like this:  love!  Greater, deeper, more passionate love for God, and for my neighbors.

We spent a couple of hours by the lake, then came in and finished the day indoors, with talking, movies, worship music, dinner, laughing, rest.  It was a wonderful day, and we just kept commenting to each other what a great day it was.  As the day drew to a close, my mom got a call from her prayer-warrior friend, who called to say that the Lord impressed upon her mightily to pray for us this day – throughout the day – that we would enjoy this day.  And she did pray for us, fiercely, that we would enjoy the day.  What love!  The body of Christ pouring itself out for us – for us.  It’s too much!  Again, Abba raised up an intercessor for us, who prayed for us in accordance with His direction, and He heard and answered, and then told us all about it.  Is it not too wonderful!!   Your prayers are being heard.  And they are being answered.  Thank you for giving of yourselves for us.  May Abba richly bless each of you, and your loved ones, a thousand times over, and minister to your needs according to His glory.

Day 7 (Tuesday, May 9, 2012)

This morning Di said she kept finding herself fearful of the future if I die.  All number of unanswered questions about life and living, plaguing her mind and spirit, occupying her time and thought life.  And finally she realized, if God does in fact allow me to die, she’ll actually go through all those things then.  That that will be the time God has for her to live through and experience those things with Him, in His perfect timing.

Why live through them twice!?!”  she asked herself.

In other words, by worrying about these unknown things now, she is, in a sense, living through them now — and, if I die, she will have to actually live through them a “second” time.  And she realized that by dwelling on “what ifs” and worries, the evil one was robbing, killing, and destroying her “now” moments.  Robbing her moments of joy and wonder and relationship and beauty and appreciation and rest and love.  Robbing her of an abundant life with Christ.  As Jesus said in Jn 10:10: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

For my part, I found myself a bit down this morning, and realized that I was mis-understanding my options.  I was thinking that the options are:  (a) don’t recover and die; or (b) recover and don’t die.  But, again, those are not the options!  I am going to die!  (Yes, I know, . . . I’m slow on the uptake, having just been through this on Sunday ☺).  Nothing has changed.  I must live today fully.  Whether God tells me I am going to die tomorrow, or die in 30 years, I must live today fully.  In that very real sense, nothing has changed!

Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to all-of-a-sudden live life fully, as if by magic or by a self-focused re-ordering of my thoughts and priorities.  But I do expect it to happen more and more.  And here’s why:  Diane teaches calculus.

As I write this Mallory is at her AP Calculus exam (go Mallory!), so I’ve heard an awful lot of Calculus tutoring in our home for about 2 months leading up to the exam.  And here’s what I think:  Calculus is hard!  Really hard!  The equations not only have numbers in them, but all sorts of crazy squiggles and arrows.  And letters!  In fact, lots of the “formulas and theorems for reference” don’t have any numbers in them at all!  (But this is math!  How can that be?)  And as I putter around the house, Diane and Mallory are speaking in this foreign tongue full of “arc tangents” and “co-secants” and “concaves” and “properties of definite integrals”, “trapezoid rules” and “parametric forms”.  (I think they also mentioned flux capacitors, portals to other dimensions, and parallel universes where unicorns do exist, but I’m not positive.)  The point here is, the equations are complicated.

So what does Diane teaching calculus have to do with any of us living life more fully?  Well, it impressed upon me how simple God’s equation is for that. By comparison to calculus, it’s simple.  In fact, it’s about the simplest equation there can be:  A = B.  In John 17:1-3, Scripture records Jesus’ prayer to the Father moments before entering Gethsemane:  “Father, the hour has come.  Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.  And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

The equation is this:  eternal life = knowing Jesus and the Father.

That’s it!  Period!  If we were to explore the original Greek words, we would see that Jesus is saying, in part, that abundant, full, joyous life on earth is one and the same as knowing Him and Abba Father intimately.  So if I desire true life, I will receive that gift more and more as I more and more come to know Jesus and the Father, with intimacy.  Period.  The “equation” is so simple.  A = B.   True life = (equals!!) knowing Abba Father and Jesus.  Notice that there is no plus sign — no “Father/Jesus plus” wealth or good grades or marriage or anything.  Just A = B.  (More exposition in this regard can be found in the Truth Project DVD entitled “Unio Mystica”, which is reflected above.)

So, the evil one had tempted Di to worry and focus on “what ifs”, and those things were leading her away from abundant life, because they were leading her away from focusing upon and living with and thereby knowing Jesus and our Father in heaven more deeply.  But God, as He always does, called her back to Him.  To life.

Oh Father, may we seek to know You and Your most beloved Son, Jesus!  May we glorify You, Triune God, by enjoying you!

Day 8 (Wednesday, May 10, 2012)

Today we told Mallory and Cara that I am really, really sick.  That the doctors say I have inoperable stage IV pancreatic cancer.  That they say – they say – that I may live a year, more or less.  That the percentages and odds are not good.  That my healing will take a miracle.  God’s supernatural intervention.

We told each girl in turn, separately, holding them in our arms in our family room, and just allowing them to cry and ask questions as they desired.  Each girl was anchored to Truth in those moments, focused on what is real and true about God, and I praise, praise, praise God for that(!), and bless and thank you for your prayers(!).  The processing of this news, I expect, will unfold in waves.  It is crucial in these unfolding events that each of us stays anchored to Truth, and that lies are kept at bay.

We didn’t have a “teaching” session planned for those moments. We wanted the moments for each girl, which were bathed in your (thank you!!) and our prayers, to unfold as the Spirit led, in those moments.  Mallory reminded us that her twin “themes” this year for her walk with God are “Trust Him” and “Be Satisfied”.  She remembered His promise that He will not give her more than she can bear, in Him.  She knows that these moments are filtered through His fingertips, for He is Sovereign over all things.  And for reasons of His own – reasons that are good and great – He decided that it was ok for this to happen, at this time, in this way.

Cara was wholly quiet with her thoughts, but she truly has a big heart for God, and seemed reassured by truths about God and His heart toward us.  I took Cara from Diane’s arms and held her, and as her sobbing began to slow, I asked Abba Father to show me how to best love her in the midst of her continuing silence.  And He immediately brought the following verse to me:  “[a]ssuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”  Mt. 25:40.  Some commentators suggest Jesus is saying that when we reach out to those in need, we are actually, mysteriously, somehow ministering to Him.  To Him.  (As the Jamison Fausset Brown Commentary puts it:  “Christ Himself was the Personal Object of all their deeds: that they found Him hungry, and supplied Him with food; that they brought water to Him, and slaked His thirst; that seeing Him naked and shivering, they put warm clothing upon Him, paid Him visits when lying in prison for the truth, and sat by His bedside when laid down with sickness. This is the astonishing interpretation which Jesus says “the King” will give to them of their own actions here below.”  (Emphasis in original.))  I believe the Lord brought Mt. 25:40 to my mind to show me that by quietly hugging Cara, I, too, was somehow quietly embracing Him.  He was reminding me again, viscerally, that He is not dispassionate or disconnected — but He is invested in our circumstances, and our suffering grieves Him.  And I somehow knew that the simple act of holding Cara tightly, and nothing more, was enough to love her deeply in that moment.  So there we sat, together – our Lord, Cara, and me – simply embracing, as muffled sobs turned to silence.

9 thoughts on “Catching Up

  1. Psalms 18:2 says, “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” Nahum 1:7 say, “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him.”
    These are just a couple of verses that have encouraged and comforted me in the past. I truly can’t tell you how much I feel for you right now. A couple nights ago, when I first heard, I truly dropped to my knees and went to prayer with the Lord about your situation and have been praying since. We never know exactly why God puts these hard (in this case, life-threatening) trials in our lives, but I can assure and remind you, that God has a great purpose and reason for everything under the sun. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” I greatly admire your cheerful spirit towards your current situation; it is remarkably inspiring and an outstanding value to have. Psalm 40:4 reads, “Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust…” John 6:47 reads, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” Mark 9:23 also says, “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” Your spirit in writing this blog reminded me of the man that God is talking about in these verses who maketh the Lord his trust and believes on Him. Like Mallory’s one “theme,” trust Him (always). John 16:33 says, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie, Facing the Giants, but to me, that is one of the most inspiring and amazing movies out there when it comes to trusting in the Lord with all your heart and with a cheerful spirit. Coach Grant never gave up on the Lord, he still trusted and believed God when his career was in jeopardy, his season was in jeopardy, his finances were in jeopardy, and his chance to ever be a father was in jeopardy. Look how his life miraculously turned around… Now I realize, that what you’re going through is so many more times worse and hard to deal with than Coach Grants or other real-live situations. I also realize that nothing I say can take away this ailment, however, I pray that God would show His abundant mercy on you and your family in this time.
    All things are possible with God on your side! Since you really wouldn’t know me, I just want to let you that I am a home-schooled debater (who went to that tournament that you talked about above and witnessed Mallory’s finals’ win) and thus, is how I recognized your name when I heard about what was going on in your life. I have to say I really enjoyed (in one sense, and then in another mourned) reading a little of what you’ve wrote and how you’re dealing with this pancreatic cancer. Also, I’d like to comment that I rejoiced in how Mallory also responded to the news. That’s tough. Once again, everything is for a reason and God’s people will not suffer without a purpose behind it, His great purpose! It’s all for His glory in the end as we will praise Him eternally (someday) in Heaven! You have ministered to me just in how you’ve responded to this situation that the Lord has put you in. I want you to know that I will be continuing to pray sincerely and daily to the Lord God Almighty for His mercy and healing in this situation. James 5:16 reads, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Think of Abraham in particular. God will hear, and whatever the outcome is, just remember that it is for His glory.

    Sincerely praying to a Lord who can perform miracles,

    Jacob Hester (a debate student)

    Psalm 37:39 reads, “But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: He is their strength in the time of trouble.”

  2. Thank you for this blog because I have already gained so much from your entries. You are a gifted writer and your spiritual insights are full of living water. It was no easy feat to break this news to your precious daughters, yet you find Jesus right in the midst of the tears and embraces.

    Your observation about calculus and God’s equation for eternal life could be made into a gospel tract. I loved hearing how Diane is choosing not to go through painful experiences twice. Thank you again, and please continue. Thank you for being vulnerable during a difficult time–for the sake of God’s glory.

    Prayers I am praying for you:

    Psalm 57:2, Psalm 138:8 (ESV) – that God will fulfill his purpose for you.

    2 Kings 20:1-7 – that God would extend your time as he did for Hezekiah, and the right “poultice” will be found and applied to your condition.

    That this trial will result in “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over” fruitfulness–in your lives, as well as the lives of many, many others.

  3. Joe,
    You have ministered to me over the last 6 or 7 years of my life. Not only in what you say but more by what you have lived out. You are more a man of God, a true man of God than anyone I can think of. I know that God promises to not give us more than we can handle and as Pastor Joe has been teaching, our doctrine is where we land when life hits us in the face. You my brother have not fallen, you merely stepped from one plane to another because the Father has embraced you as you have sought Him for years. Your life is a true testimony to faith in the midst of a tremendous battle and the grace that God gives to His children. Brother, you are and will continue to be one of the greatest influences of my life when it comes to my spiritual walk. God the Father is not done with you and we are looking for our Father to move in a mighty way and He will. Either here on earth with a healing or with a homecoming as you head into the arena blazing the way for the rest of us. You, my friend are the mightiest of warriors and I am very, very proud to call you brother.
    B.Y.

  4. Hi, Joe. While it is unfortunate that this is the reason I am connected to you again, I am so glad to be reconnected. Reading your words is such an inspiration and a reminder to me of so many things — to live life to the fullest; to appreciate your family, the little things; to remember that God has a plan for each and every one of us. Although I am bummed to hear your health news, I am uplifted by your words, attitude and love for Christ. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers as you take this journey. -Cassandra Mott

  5. Joe,
    This blog is both amazing and hearbreaking to me. The words you write and the way you make them come across only serve to remind me of the kind, decent, gentleman you are. Although it seems you are facing this situation with calmness and resolution to God’s will, I am gong to continue to pray for a miracle. Please know you and your family will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. Karyn

  6. Mr. Korpics,

    I was so sorry to get this news yesterday. You and Mrs. Korpics were always such an encouragement to me over the years in KOK–I will always have fond memories of teaching with Diane and learning so mch for her wisdom and fun spirit. Your family has truly been such a blessing and a challenge to so many people. We will be praying for you all during this time–that through this, He would be glorified. That He would draw you to Himself. That you all would feel His arms wrapped tightly around you. That you would find yourself carried by His love and sustained by His grace. That you would understand more deeply and fully His grace and provision towards you all because of this. I pray this for you, for your wonderful wife, and your precious girls–that you would know more fully the depth of His mercy and love.

    In Him
    Rachel (Miller) Marcello

  7. Joe,
    You are an encourager to all of us. Your thoughts are powerful. the question i need to ask is: “Am i living my life, everyday, as though it was the last? Do I look more like Christ or more like me?” It is a journey and I thank there are warriers like you.
    Jeff B

  8. Joe:

    My heart goes out to you and your family. My Mother left this earth last year due to pancreatic cancer. I have no doubt she is with her heavenly Father.
    The Lord gives and He takes. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21
    I will pray for peace and comfort for your family and His closeness to you.
    A brother in Christ, John

  9. Joe:
    Been praying for you now daily since Susan Miller published the news. Your blog s most appreciated and I am thinking that many will benefit along with me. Diane was very sweet…she was worried about covering Theo snack for tomorrow night….worried about us….OK, what’s wrong with this picture?….you are a blessed man…Malory have also been a real blessing to the group and in particulat Jeff, Nathan and Anna have really reveled in their joint fellowship as the senior-most debaters…..really sweet….

    The Putrich’s and Theo (and many others) will continue to pray for your miracle (as the Lord allows of course)…..Jesus has really big arms, may you feel His comfort in an ongoing way…..

    Your Brother in Christ – SFPutrich

    PS…Diane said it was OK for Theo to pray, so I will be distributing a quick email about that and also we’ll be praying for you as group in an ongoing venue.

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