Running Hard after Christ

Posted: February 26, 2014 in Uncategorized


Here it is the 26th again….how long will I be counting the months?  I counted the weeks until it was 30something. And every Wednesday as the clock neared 10 pm, I re-lived those final moments of watching Patrick’s final breaths until he was gone.

Now 14 months later, gone means so much more.  Gone means forever.  It’s more real with its meaning louder than ever.  It screams at me when I enter the empty house, when I run the dishwasher now only once a week, have one load of laundry, carry out one bag of trash and crawl into my side of the bed with the other side still made.  It screams at me when I don’t have to ask anyone what I should do, where I should go or what I should eat.  Or when I want to share some silly detail about my day or some random idea I have. My life’s partner is gone and left behind is a huge void.

There are a thousand and one ways that I miss him:  his smile, his touch, his leadership, his friendship, his counsel, his voice, his understanding, his encouragement, his perspective, his laughter, his wisdom, his love and overall just the balance of being the other half that he was for me.  He is never far from my thoughts.  It’s still so hard to accept that what we had is over.  I am not the same person…how can I be?  Death is not natural and it changes us.

Isaiah 53 is a chapter I have been focusing on lately.  Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  He was crushed with sorrow.  I now have an understanding of what crushed means.  Even the word “crushed” sounds heavy.  It’s such a weight that it feels physical.  It’s overwhelming.  Sometimes like I can’t breathe.  Other times like a weight on my shoulders; and yet other times a fog like I can’t see through.

But Jesus was crushed for my sin, for Patrick’s sin, for everyone’s sin.  Because of this when I look at his stripes where He was beaten and crucified for me, I know that He rescued me from eternal death, which was my worst problem.  And likewise, He will rescue me and heal me from my grief and pain. It may not be complete on earth, but someday in Heaven for sure.

Recently at a surprise birthday party for a close friend, as I looked around the room at the dozens of smiling faces, random thoughts zoomed through my head….

  • how everyone else there were couples…they still had their spouses;
  • how much fun Patrick would have had and how he would have probably been involved with the roast or some other aspect of the party;
  • how life moves on with deaths and birthdays daily;
  • remembering Patrick’s own surprise 40th when we would have never imagined he wouldn’t make it to his 50th birthday;
  • and finally how blessed I am to count these people as friends.  They continue to walk next to me in my valley and I can rejoice with them in their celebrations.

Those thoughts are normal (I think) but it’s a choice for me where my thoughts land and on what I will focus.  So I left the party that night focused on thankfulness.

The mailbox rarely brings cards anymore and that’s ok.  But one came last week that stopped me in my tracks.  It actually wasn’t even a card.  As I opened the non-descript white envelope, I expected that it was some generic insurance offer.  I was shocked to immediately see a generous amount of money folded in the middle of a one page typed anonymous letter.  Such unexpected kindness reminds me once again that Jehovah-Jireh is my provider.

But what sent me immediately to the floor were these words,

“Patrick was so influential in the life of our family by continually encouraging us to run hard after Christ.  We continue to be encouraged and inspired by your desire to run hard after Christ even in the midst of such heartache.”

There is no higher of a compliment that anyone could ever give me!  Patrick had a lot of sayings, but anyone that ever listened to him for very long knew that his main mantra was to tell everyone “run hard after Christ.”  He said it in prayers; He preached it at weddings; He wrote it in the Bibles given to graduates every year; He counseled it; He believed it; He lived it.  Patrick always said he was a simple guy with a simple message.  But that simple message says it all.

So now, more than a year after he’s gone to have someone tell me that they can still see in my life that I am running hard after Christ….well, I needed to hear that.  On my kitchen floor, I sobbed, thanking the Lord.  It was a sign of God’s goodness affirming my weak faith.  Because often I feel like all I’m doing is showing up; All I’m doing is barely surviving; All I’m doing is the next thing.  But that’s enough, because Christ has already done the rest.

Because of Jesus…

Even in my sadness, I have peace.  He understands.  He sees.  He knows.

Even in my pain, I have confidence.  He is with me.  I can trust Him.  He has a plan.

Even in my grief, I am thankful.  I am blessed beyond anything I deserve.

Therefore, I will continue to run hard after Christ….one tiny step at a time.

Psalm 126:5 “Those who sow seeds with tears will reap with songs of joy.”

  1. Bryan says:

    good words Dena. your thoughts inspire….

  2. lorie and albert smith says:

    thank you

  3. Oh my goodness, these words!

  4. Ruthanne O'Brien says:

    Dena, you are such a wonderful writer! Between Patrick’s posts and yours, I think I have cried at every one!! Your post makes me just so thankful for my own husband. Like you, we never know how long we will have together! Your writing is good insight into what others struggle with who have lost their husband – things that others who haven’t experienced that really can’t know. I love that you can express what you are going through, and that God is faithful in seeing you through one day at a time even though the pain is still real. Thank you for writing down your thoughts – it gives more understanding of what you feel and gives us something to pray for you about. Love, Ruthanne

  5. Linda Herhuth says:

    Beautiful words, as always, Dena! And the gratitude that you display in the midst of your continued sorrow is beyond beautiful – a testament to a heart that is learning to completely trust God. Continuing to pray for you and Paige and Parker.

  6. Dawn says:

    Your words are so beautiful, Dena. Patrick had a huge impact on our lives. I reflect on his life often and pray for you often too! Last year a friend gave us an unpainted two-step stool for the kids to use. One Sunday morning when I was home with all of the kids (due to someone being sick) we decided to paint that stool. On it I painted Patricks famous words “Run Hard After Christ” and we stamped each of the kids’ feet all over it as a reminder of Patrick’s life. The stool is in our bathroom and the kids are reminded daily to run like Patrick did, and you are doing, after Christ.

  7. Bob says:

    Your steps may feel tiny, but you have picked up the pace. We remember, Patrick beat us to the finish line.

  8. Shari Herbert says:

    Dena, thank you so much for sharing your heart and pain. Divorce is very different from losing a beloved faithful soul-mate, but crushing none-the-less. Life is truly never the same. Such grieving experiences make us so aware that this world is not our home. I long to be in the loving embrace of Jesus–my precious Savior and glorious Lord. But until then, we will continue the race He has set for us, knowing that His plans for our lives are for good and not for evil, to give us a future and a hope. I am praying for you and Paige & Parker. God bless you my sister in Jesus.

  9. Gloria says:

    May Jesus continue to hold your heart ❤

  10. Traci krumpelman says:

    Thank you.

  11. Kathy Mrak says:

    You and your children are in my prayers. God will use the sorrow you are going through to help someone else in their sorrow. God bless!

  12. Sandy H says:

    Yes, I know. You have described my feelings and experience exactly after the sudden loss of my husband almost two years ago. The 14th, Saturday mornings, so many reminders and memories. But God is faithful and meets me in my darkest hours in amazing ways. Thank you for writing this.

  13. Del Warbington says:

    Running Hard may feel like tiny steps today…but the day will come when you will leap, as long as you are going after HIM who SAVES, that is what counts. You are where Christ needs you to be today. I am praying for you Friend.

  14. Lisa Davis says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. They touched me to the core.

  15. sharonkonop says:

    Thank you, once again, for putting into words your pain and your hope. It inspires and strengthens me. My favorite line is “He will rescue me and heal me from my grief and pain.” So much hope in one sentence. There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think of him and pray for you, Paige, and Parker. Much love

  16. Hi Dena,
    I admire your strength even though you may think you have non. you are an inspiration to those who read your post. Keep on running hard after Christ and know am in your corner holding you up in prayer.

    I know the Lord will heal your wound in due season.



  18. […] “Running Hard After Christ” by Dena […]

  19. Judy Stafne says:

    My heart goes out to you . I lost my son to ALS last year. He suffered with it for 8 1/2 years. He left behind two daughters who help us so much with our loss.
    ALS is a horrible disease and we ask WHY our son??? We know that God is in control and without his grace and mercy we would never survive. We, also, know that the angels came and took our
    son one morning and he is not suffering anymore but sitting with Jesus.
    God Bless You-

  20. Sandy M. says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart/life without Patrick in such a meaningful way. Your gift of writing has certainly touched my heart.

  21. Amy Ayers says:

    Your testimony is an encouragement to me.

  22. Lucia Hoeness says:

    This brought tears which flow easy these days. I recently lost my close friend (my aunt Kristi) in January. There was no funeral. No Goodbye. No body to mourn. No celebration of her life. No memories to share with family gathered. Just heartbreak that still continues. Reading your post helps me to see what my Uncle (her hubby) must feel on some level. He, however, is not answering calls or letters. Nothing. It was as if he died too. He must be grieving but in a way I do not understand. I just try and show love and understanding as best I can (he lives in Florida). I can not imagine losing Darin. I tell you what miss Dena, if there is anyone out there who has difficult days in their marriage all they would have to do is read your or Tom Butler’s sweet posts and WOW! Little bit of a wake up call! I know your heart must grieve terribly for Patrick. I wish I had the chance to know him. He sounds like a wonderful man! Hugs and prayers my friend.

    • Thank You, Lucia….I wish you could have known Patrick too. I’ll introduce you someday! I’m sorry for your loss with your Aunt. As for your uncle…part of him did die with your Aunt and he won’t be the same. but give him time, a lot of time. send messages of love in ways he doesn’t have to respond. He will appreciate your effort at some point.

  23. […] heart for the older generation. Everyone who knew Patrick can remember him encouraging them to “run hard after Christ!” In fact, he used his last public preaching opportunity to share the message to which he had […]

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