Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Gospel According to Joe: From Intended Evil to Eternal Good

Joe's First Epistle

I'll use aliases throughout this series to protect the privacy of the family.

" meant evil against me, but God meant it for good..." (Genesis 50:20, ESV)

Joe, a friend of mine, recently received devastating news that sent his life into a nosedive, one that affected the whole family. His son, a corporate lawyer, immediately took on his dad's role as CEO of the family business. Joe's wife Beth, a homeschooling mom, added the role of Joe's primary care-giver.       
       Joe and Beth have served in leadership for our church for many years. They also are active in various homeschool groups, so many folks stepped up to stand beside the family and help in diverse ways. We all sought to encourage them in any way we could.
       Then Joe began sending email messages. He, our brother who was experiencing his own private, pain-ridden hell, was at once sitting at the feet of Jesus and being tutored in extreme grace! Through his messages, he shared what the Saviour was teaching him. I asked permission from Joe to share his messages, and he granted my request. May they bless your heart and life, Gentle Reader, as they have mine!

Today is Wednesday, October 22. It's my birthday. I'm 56. Those who know me well know that birthdays are not important to me. I rarely remember anyone's. I think I will remember this one as long as I live...which brings me to my story.
Today we moved from our 6,000-feet-of-excess log home. It rests on a 50-acre parcel of land that we have aptly named Utopia. We loved our home, but more than that, we loved the land and the freedom it afforded our family of now 12. It was our dream home. The kind of home that you think of when having family reunions and a gaggle of grand kids coming home to year after year. A place where they can ride four wheelers, shoot guns, hunt, fish, ride tractors, swim, BBQ, explore, creek-walk, get stuck, get hurt (a little), and relax. We sold it for reasons only God fully knows to a wonderful and generous family that has already blessed us in ways they may never know. Here's one example; they are allowing Sunny, our golden Lab, to stay with them for up to a month as we make the transition Who does that these days? Not me!
So back to my story. We turned over the house to the new owners at noon and then proceeded to Indy for a follow-up appointment for my back surgery at 2 p.m. The back doctor referred me to a specialist to tell me about the results of the two biopsies they did on my vertebrae. Beth and the two younger girls accompanied me while Stephen and Allie went to a college soccer game with a bunch of friends. As we rounded the corner to the hospital and I provided the necessary backseat driving directions to my wife, we saw entrance, Number 4, that I was instructed to enter. Both Beth and I were taken aback a little as we read the big sign over the door: CANCER CENTER. It may as well have been in flashing neon lights! Thankfully, the girls were oblivious to the sign as they were busy doing their school work.
At the reception desk, I gave the name of the doctor I was to see. That’s when I learned she was an oncologist. A very competent lady and pleasant. She met with Beth and me to inform us that I have multiple myeloma which is bone marrow cancer. Bone marrow cancer is a little hard to get your mind around. It permeates the body and can show up anywhere and is best treated by bone marrow transplants combined with chemo and radiation therapies. It is incurable. Without treatment, she said, I had a year or less. Radical treatment could extend my life expectancy by two plus years. She and my son (Tyler the doctor) are saying there are some good reasons to pursue treatment.
Me? Not so much. But I have promised my wife and son to remain open to consider. I am interested in managing the pain but not so much in extending my life. This world is not my home and I look forward with great anticipation to meeting my Savior, Christ Jesus. Don't get me wrong. There are many things I would like to see accomplished; mainly growing old with my wife, seeing all my children grown and sharing the Gospel with family and friends. I will continue for as long as God allows.
On Monday October 27, I have a radiology appointment to discuss treatment, a full body skeletal scan, a bone marrow biopsy procedure, and a bunch of lab work. This will help the doctor determine the stage I am in and the recommended treatment options. I have an appointment on October 31 to review all of those results with the oncologist.
So, I pray for you. That the salvation, peace, and understanding that only the Word of God and Christ can provide will come upon you and that you, too, will experience the joy and confidence in Christ that I have. I rejoice in this: that God chose to save me before the foundations of the Earth even though I was His enemy. Amazing!
In Christ Alone
          Husband, father, friend and follower of Christ, saved by His matchless forgiveness and grace by His death on the cross for a wretched sinner such as I.

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