Day 13 — Not a Moment Too Short, or a Moment Too Long

It’s 4:30 in the morning and I haven’t been able to sleep since 3:00 because the pain in my sides and back makes it too uncomfortable to sleep, whatever position I try.  The Vicodin isn’t kicking in this time, even though I upped the dose a bit.  The pain isn’t intolerable by any stretch of the imagination, and generally subsides when I sit upright or stand, and I am very, very thankful(!!) for that ☺.  But I decided to get up after a 90 minute struggle — alternately praying, trying over and over to get comfortable, and meditating on my Abba Father and my Savior Jesus Christ.

The avenue for my meditating began where it has begun countless times over the past month, with a teaching from about a month ago that profoundly impacted me.  It was a morning devotional teaching at a Christian Communicators of America speech and debate tournament in Michigan.  I actually arrived at the tournament later in the day and missed the teaching, but as the tournament ended my friend Duane, knowing that I had been having some ongoing medical issues, caught up with me to talk.  During our conversation he shared a snapshot of the teaching, and even the 2-minute version brought tears streaming down my face.

The teaching involved, in part, Malachi 3:3, where God tells us this about who He is:

“He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver;
He will purify the sons of Levi,
And purge them as gold and silver,
That they may offer to the Lord
An offering in righteousness.”

As I understand it, the teacher, Dave, explained that he had wondered what it meant for a refiner of silver to “sit”.  After all, God is telling us that He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver; so what, exactly, is He telling us about Himself?  Dave’s answer came during a visit to Colonial Williamsburg — a re-enactment theme park — where he found himself chatting with a “colonial” silversmith.  Dave asked the silversmith what it meant to “sit” as a refiner/purifier of silver.

The silversmith explained that when he refines silver, he must sit at the opening of the furnace and focus intently upon the silver, for if the silver is removed from the furnace a moment too soon, it will not be fully purified, and if it is in the furnace a moment too long, it will be damaged.  Dave asked the silversmith how he could tell if the silver was ready, fully refined and purified, and the silversmith, in effect, said this:  Oh, that’s easy . . . if I can see my image in the silver, I know it’s ready.

Whew!  In a few short words in Malachi 3:3, God is telling us that this is who He is.  That this is a very real part of His character!  “He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver.”  How utterly reassuring!  As I find myself in the furnace of affliction, this is the heart of my Abba Father, my Saviour Jesus, who is wholly invested in these moments, in me.  Intently focused, never wavering.  Patiently, lovingly, watching . . . watching . . . watching.  Every moment.  Watching to make absolutely certain that I will not be in the furnace either a moment too short, or a moment too long.  Knowing all the while that when the refining — the purifying(!) — is done, He will be able to see His reflection in me more clearly than ever before.

And not only me, but Diane and Megan and Mallory and Cara.  At the moment, each of us is in our own furnace.  Yet we know our heavenly Refiner will not allow us– will not allow us — to be in there a moment to short, or a moment too long.

And not only us, but all of you who have trusted Jesus as your Savior!  As I’ve heard preached on more than one occasion, you can be relatively certain that you are in one of two groups:  either you are in the midst of affliction, or someday you will be in the midst of affliction.  And if you are (or when you are), you can be assured of the Lord’s heart and focused care and concern toward you –  His treasure — throughout those very moments.  As Charles Spurgeon preached in 1881:  “Our Lord sits as the Refiner at the furnace mouth because He is all attention.  He has, as it were, given up all other cares just to sit there and watch His treasure.  He is determined that His servants shall be purified — that the sons of Levi shall be purged — and so there He is, everything else laid aside, giving His whole heart and soul to those whom He is refining. “Oh” you say “but you exaggerate if you talk about the Lord’s giving all His heart and soul to one of His people.”  No, I do not.  The Lord Jesus watches each one of His people as intensely as if He had no other.  Finite minds must have a center, somewhere, and as that center changes, so our circumference of thought and action shifts.  But God’s center is everywhere and His circumference is nowhere!   Each one of us may be in the center of the Divine mind and yet none of the redeemed may be any the less near because of it.  Jesus watches each one — you, me, 50,000 others — all of them His chosen ones that are undergoing the purifying process.  He watches each one as if there were never another for His blessed eyes to rest upon.  He is all attention, watching . . . as practical refiners watch their precious metal!  Poor, bowed Heart, Jesus is all attention!  His sitting down is not because He forgets, but because He remembers! . . . Always observing, always watching.  Jesus shall sit—“He shall sit as a refiner.””

Oh the wonder of our God and King!  Again I ask, is He not too wonderful!?  This is the God whose hand I am holding, in whose arms I am resting, as this season of my life unfolds.  This is the God who is with me when the sun is warming my face as I walk along the way, and this is the God who is with me when I can’t sleep at 3:00 a.m. because the pain is too much.  This is the God who saw my affliction on the horizon, and, in His perfect timing, graciously and lovingly opened my eyes to Malachi 3:3 — focused my eyes in a new way, to help anchor me to Him as my doctors more and more began talking in terms of “inoperable cancer”.

The wistful irony is that as Duane shared Dave’s teaching with me last month, I had thought that the worst of my furnace of affliction was behind me.  But my Abba Father in heaven knew differently, and as He had done in so many other different and poignant ways, He further prepared my heart for what was to come, that I might rest more assuredly — knowing He is right here with us, in control, and that we will be in this season not a moment too short, nor a moment too long. . . .

13 thoughts on “Day 13 — Not a Moment Too Short, or a Moment Too Long

  1. Dear Mr. Korpics,
    That is so beautiful. I love the word pictures that you paint and present. Your devotional at Maranatha about God’s presence burning away our dross will be with me always.

    I’ve struggled repeatedly to put down what I’ve wanted to say; and I still can’t express my feelings, so I thought I would paint a word picture that I was struck with recently.

    I was looking at a trophy given out at the final Michigan tournament this past weekend – it’s a transparent blue piece of glass-like plastic, shaped kind of like a skyscraper – and something struck me: the trophy may on the face appear to be a sign of my accomplishment, but in reality anyone looking at that object should see *through* it, and me, to my coach. Without my coach, the speech would’ve been nothing; and so in the same way I believe our lives should be like that trophy. They should be windows for people to look through to see Christ – so when we do anything for Christ, they don’t see us, but Him! Jesus said that whoever fed the hungry fed Him; and when we minister to others we are ministering to Him.

    The reason I bring this up is because I believe you are the perfect illustration of this concept! You have been a spiritual giant in my life as well as countless others, and you have constantly reflected Christ – you’ve given us a picture of Him! Every time I reflect on the devotionals you’ve so earnestly given, or ponder the words you have written here, I am drawn closer to Christ; because like the moon, you reflect the Son.

    Mr. Korpics, I sincerely believe that you are treasured among God’s greatest trophies; and are numbered among the jewels in His crown. He is burning away your dross – and you, unlike so many of us, are embracing it. Oh how I wish that your example would be multiplied a hundred fold! Oh how I wish that the world would see Christ through men like you countless times more than they do now!

    Thank you, so, so much for your passion for Christ!

    Your brother and earnest servant of Christ,
    Kenan Sprague

  2. for God who said “Let light shine out of darkness”, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may always be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. 2cor4:6-12

  3. Hi Joe,
    Your blog was passed along to me by one of the folks at our church. We are praying for God’s sustaining grace for you during these days.
    A Brother in Christ,

  4. Joe & Diane – Thanks for your example & friendship. We love you both & have been praying daily for you. Joe, your words on this blog are ministering to me & no doubt many other. As someone already said, a real Sunday School lesson. We will devote our Flocks’ prayer time tonight to your family. Keep trusting…pray for miracles daily! We know that in the pain, God is mightily at work & trust the Holy Spirit is walking with you closely, Bro. Call on us anytime; we’re here for you!
    In Christ,
    Darrell & Susie Hulisz

  5. Joe and Diane…
    Our hearts are heavy as we have learned the news of Joe’s diagnosis. Please know that we are here and available for whatever you may need.
    Joe, there is an abundance of truth in your insights and we are thanking God for making you aware of them…of Him. As you know, death is very real to us now; it’s part of us every day. We would even say, now, that death is more real to us than this life. And because of this, God is more real…even beyond faith in Him, if that makes any sense. We are no longer merely aware of eternity, but part of us (not just Sophia herself, but the part of us that she took with her) is already there. What lies ahead is so much more real than what we are experiencing in the here and now.
    Only the Lord knows what your days left on this earth will look like. He has made you keenly aware of mortality…and we thank Him for that. He will use this, more than you even realize, for His glory and the growth of His kingdom.
    Please know that we are not afraid of your path and are not at a loss for words. We are all too familiar with the emotions and feelings; with being stretched beyond limits without totally crumbling to pieces…by His grace alone. We are available to you/for you and consider it an honor to pray for you, all, and walk along side you. We love you.

    • Joe & Diane – Thanks for your example & friendship. We love you both & have been praying daily for you. Joe, your words on this blog are ministering to me & no doubt many other. As someone already said, a real Sunday School lesson. We will devote our Flocks’ prayer time tonight to your family. Keep trusting…pray for miracles daily! We know that in the pain, God is mightily at work & trust the Holy Spirit is walking with you closely, Bro. Call on us anytime; we’re here for you!
      In Christ,
      Darrell & Susie Hulisz

  6. Joe, the teaching and examples of you and your family have indeed been a grace and inspiration to all of us. Thank you for the deeply meaningful posts. We are committed to upholding you consistently in prayer and are available for anything else your family might need.

  7. Hello Joe,
    You are a precious man of God. Our hearts are heavy with your news, but we do have hope and are all praying here. We want to stand beside you & your family in this journey. I am specifically praying for “His peace that passes ALL understanding” to cover and engulf Mallory, Meagan, Cara, Diane and of course you. Anything at all that you may think of that we could help with, we are waiting to do. I hugged Mallory last week and told her that we serve a BIG God and we are asking him for BIG things. Today, I will ask Him to carry you through the pain that you talked about in your blog and ask God to bless you with precious moments today and good rest tonight. We love all of you.
    In Him, Carrie and Family

  8. Dear Joe,
    This is one of the best sermons I have ever heard. Yes, we are all going through or will be going through affliction. Your exposition of Malachi 3:3 how the Refiner “sits” for just the right time, neither too long, nor too short is something I will never forget. You greatly encourage me and all who read this. I am praying for you. Blessings to you, Brother Joe. May He continue to bring you a peace that passes all understanding.
    In Christian love,

  9. Yes, I Remember that devotional from Mr. Shubert, At Hillsdale. It was mind opening.
    Gods timing in our of our life is always perfect, even if it does not seem perfect to us.

    Praying for your Family,
    Anna Meng

  10. Dear Joe,
    Drexel told me today. Please know that Kathy and my family, including Sarah, David and Mary, are praying for you. May our God give His angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways. Ps. 91:11. Blessings to you, Joe. We love you!
    Your friend in Christ,

  11. Mr. Korpics,
    I’m so glad you have started this blog. You are one of men in my life, I always look up to. I was re-reading some bible study notes from high-school and realizing how much I missed those night that 15 of us girls would sit in your family room and hear you teach. This morning while doing my devotions I stumbled across notes from a lesson in which you talked about God refining us. In the margin I have a sketch of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace with the words under it “He’s there, and your ropes will fall off….had they not been cast in the fire, they [Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego] would never had the chance to know their Lord was there. Sometimes we are in the fire so that we can see there is a fourth person among us.” Now not only Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew, but all of Babylon knew!

    • I don’t know if you’re seeking alternative therapies, but one scientifically tested therapy – Gerson Therapy offers 90% recovery rates.

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