A month and three days.The pain is still just as crushing, and I suppose it will be for awhile. I don’t think there is a defined timetable though–some magic date when I’m ok. People keep telling me that it will get easier. Perhaps they’re right. Perhaps they’re wrong. I don’t know. Sometimes I still think, “How is this possible God? Wasn’t there another way?” God’s grace is overwhelmingly tangible, but likewise so are the extreme emotions. It has not gotten any easier. There are days when God gives grace to speak abundant truth to myself and others. Days where I can see God’s hand. Days where I know He is working in and through me. Days when I want to serve and minister. But more often than not, there are days of intense struggle. I wonder when there will be a day without tears. I wonder when I won’t feel like I have to hold it together for my Kinders all day, and then weep on the way home. I wonder when it will seem like I have a future. I’m learning that grief is not black and white. God’s spirit within me might be saying one thing, and my emotions totally the opposite. I’m realizing that it is possible to trust God even in the midst of questions. It is the Gospel, of course, that makes me free to struggle.
For days God has put on my heart that it was time to post again. But I’ve avoided it. I didn’t think I could tackle “this” subject, not yet. But God keeps bringing me here. So I guess I’m just going to ramble and we’ll see where my thoughts take me.
When we went to the ER that night, I don’t think either one us of expected that I would leave alone. I most certainly did not. I had even packed a bag because I was sure we’d be transferred 45 minutes away to a larger hospital (where Jon’s cardiologist was), just like we had been the week after Christmas. This trip was different though. This time everything happened fast. It seemed as if the entire nursing staff was in there doing something, and they were all doing it quickly.
But I still thought it would be ok. In my head, the only plausible scenario was that Jon would be going into surgery once we were transferred to St. Anthony’s. After all, we had just seen the cardiologist two days before. He had ordered more invasive tests, planned to schedule surgery shortly thereafter, and was definitely frustrated that he couldn’t see exactly what was going on. He assured us, however, that Jon’s symptoms were not life-threatening. So I sat there preparing myself for open heart surgery, Jon’s long recovery, financial pressures, putting our desire for children on the back burner… This was the suffering we had seen coming. This was the suffering about which God and I had had many conversations.
And as they worked, Jon was still being Jon, talking, telling them he hated being stuck with needles. In those moments there was never a glimmer of thought that he might die. God would not take me through that. At one point the doctor said, “Ok looks like your blood pressure is high enough and stable enough to transfer you.” But still they worked at a feverish pace. So either there was much they weren’t telling me, or they couldn’t foresee things turning badly either.
There are some details about the ER that I just can’t write, nor will I probably ever write. It was trauma in ever sense of the word. I’ve already replayed them a thousand times in my mind, as it is. But reliving the most horrific moments of my life does not help. It is not healing balm for my soul.
I realized that things were serious, but I still didn’t know. As the nurses flurried in and out, there wasn’t much time for conversation between Jon and I. But I told him at one point, “Babe, I know you don’t want them to do these things, but they have to. It’s ok lovee,” and he said, “I know, love.” But the nurses were everywhere, so that was it.
Right before the unthinkable, God gave us one beautiful moment. A nurse moved out of the way, and my darling love looked at me with eyes so full of love, adoration, but yet sadness too. And I gazed back at him. Then it was gone. The nurse once again blocked my view. Perhaps Jon had realized then; I don’t know. I still did not. But between us passed the depth of our love, without any words. i’m so thankful for that moment. Praise God for grace even then.
And then almost immediately, life shattered. They tried to bring him back for over an hour. At one point, they had. But God said his days were done.
Now I must take us on a small rabbit trail, but there is point. It all interconnects.
Jon was a preaching junkie. He listened to podcasts all the time. It was one way the thirst for truth manifested itself. And he usually wrangled me into his passion as well. One sermon we listened to months ago was “The Underestimated God” preached by Lig Duncan from Together for the Gospel 2012. Jon had gotten to go to the conference, but still listened to all the messages again when he got home! See what I mean, sermon junkie. But I digress.
So let’s connect “The Underestimated God” and the Night in the ER. I listened to the sermon again recently and God is still overwhelming with me its truth. It’s all about suffering. And idolatry. It’s about when life’s expectations are unfulfilled or shattered. And it’s about the “ruthless compassionate pursuing grace of God, in which He relentlessly goes after His servants for His glory, and their everlasting joy.”
And that’s just it. Somehow, the most horrific night of my life is God’s grace. God is relentlessly coming after ALL of me. He wants it all. And somehow this will work out for my everlasting joy. My joy!! I don’t understand it, but in taking Jon, He will show me so much more of Christ than I would have ever comprehended or thought possible. When I think about the night my expectations were shattered, God enables me to say with confidence say that Jesus is the best, even when my emotions say opposite.
Ok, so I’m probably not being very clear at this point. Well, then here’s what you need to do. Go listen to the sermon! For real. Seriously, use your smart phone and listen to it while you drive. I promise you, it will be some of the best 57 minutes you could ever spend. There is so much there that I haven’t even scratched the surface of in this post. And Lig Duncan can say it so much better than me. I’ll even attach the link: The Underestimated God– Ligon Duncan
When I edited Jon’s posts, I told him that people wanted to read small chunks. Ha! I guess I don’t take my own advice. But, I warned you this would be a ramble.
“Lord I know that you are relentlessly pursuing all of my heart. As I continue to experience all of the extreme emotions of Jon’s death, the longing for him and missing him, I know you are teaching me that you are enough. Somehow it is your grace that took Jon home. Somehow it is in your grace that you have stripped it all way. You want all of me, and I want to learn to give it to you. You are doing in my life what will lead to everlasting joy. It’s hard to see Lord. But faith is trusting when it doesn’t make sense. Lord do what you need to do in me! Lord thank you for tangible grace. I cannot neglect to write of your goodness even now in the depth of the valley…”
Psalm 138:8 “The Lord will fulfill His purposes for me; your steadfast love, O Lord endures forever…”
He’s still relentlessly pursuing my heart. To read about God’s continuing, tangible grace…
He is Abundant: Reflecting on a Year After Death
16 thoughts on “Relentless Pursuit”
Crying right now, Ami. Thank you for sharing your grief so beautifully. Still praying for you.
I would say that you are an AMAZING woman, but its not you who is AMAZING, it is Your SAVIOR! He is your sufficiency, and it shows. Love you….Tina
You are consistently on my heart and in my prayers, friend.
Ami, I was so glad to read your mention of the time with your school kids. That’s something we specifically pray for you–that God will give you great opportunities to teach those little ones about Him, not only with words but also by example. At a very young age, they are seeing someone they know well go through something very difficult, and they have a chance to see what God can do in one of His children. They may, one particularly rough day, see that same child of God falter, but may God give you the strength to rise up again and show them God’s forgiveness and patience! “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).”
Thank you Ami for sharing from your heart and God’s grace through it all
You make me stronger and I run to the foot of the cross. I love you and keep you in prayer
Your testimony of God’s grace is having an impact that reaches farther than you’ll probably ever know. This is the gospel in real life. Thank you for being willing to share.
Ami Atkins: You and Jon have always exhibited “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27) Your testimony through life and Jon’s testimony through life and death bring glory and honor to the One and only Almighty God. Thank you for sharing Jon’s incredible passion and love for Christ and for allowing others to share with you in your grief, joy, tears, and smiles as you cling to the truth of the gospel. You don’t want to hear it, but you are amazing…and it is because you have allowed Jesus into every part of you. I love you so very much, dear friend.
Love you girl. I believe you will be Amazed at what God has in store for you. Not in taking Jon but what He is teaching you that you will be able to teach to others that might be suffering or in other ways. Ami you are a Blessing and have been for a long time. Jon is with our Beautiful SAViOR and along with God is waiting for you. I dont know what kind of relationship you will have with Jon in Heaven maybe you do but I do know that you will know each other. and you and Jon can say I can see Him Face to Face and tell the story Saved By GRACE! What A Day That Will Be When My JESUS I Shall See,when I look into His FACE and Tell The Story SAVED BY GRACE !!!! Love and Prayers To You !!!!!!
I suddenly lost my honey of 22yrs just 4 weeks ago. I am still shocked and just so sad I barely breathe. Reading your posts are helping me process. I have the Savior as well, but still………
Chris, how my heart aches and breaks with you. I so remember those first “hit by a train” days. I think I walked around in a cloud of confusion for months. There were so many intense emotions that sometimes I thought I was going crazy. I know the feeling of not being able to breathe. I remember the pain so immense it was physical. So I am certainly praying for you today. I just want to tell you that it’s ok to be weak. It’s ok to run to Christ with any emotion. He will bring you back. One of the verses God really pressed on my heart in those early days was Isaiah 49:16 “I have engraved you on the palm of my hand.” You are His handprint, how could He forget you? He couldn’t. So run to Him in the depths. He will carry. It’s a hard long path, and don’t let anyone pressure you to be “ok.” Grief is messy and it has many layers. God will bring to “ok” again in His time. Praying for comfort today. Praying that grace would be so real that it would be tangible. Weeping with you. If you ever want some resources or books to read, I’d be happy to share what God used to help me greatly. You are loved. ~Ami