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Unconditional love knows no bounds

Two friends, Bob and Allison Harbick live nearby. A few years ago, doctors began treating Allison for a brain tumor. Surgery and therapy were largely ineffective. For the past year, Allison has been faithfully looked after at home by her husband Bob, Hospice care and family.

Every day for the past year, Bob writes a Bible study and devotion contemplating his walk with God while caring for Allison. Each day, every day, he shares not only his struggles but also insights learned. While being honest about his difficulties, Bob’s deep faith and growing love of God during a personal crisis has inspired me and many others.

Here is one of those daily devotions. As we struggle with the coronavirus crisis, I believe there are nuggets of wisdom and encouragement in Bob’s writing for us all. One question so many have asked me recently, “Where is God?” I believe you will discover encouragement in what Bob writes.

Wednesday – 4-15- 2020 – Passage: Matthew 10:27 – “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.”

I have been rather upbeat for most of my wife’s illness, but for some reason today, I feel downcast. I am not bothered by the threat of the COVID-19 virus or the significant financial losses of my retirement portfolio or even the prolonging of my wife’s terminal illness. Still, something rocked my heart last night and placed me in a time of gloom.

I walked into my wife’s bedroom in the dark to be with her while she fell asleep, something that I have done many times before, but last night I seemed to have scared her. She has not spoken much for the past several months, so when she says anything, I take note. She told me I scared her. These words rocked my being.

I have spent the past six months trying to meet her every need, feeding, changing, comforting her, loving her unconditionally. But last night for the first time, I scared her. The brain tumor has caused her to stare into the distance for a period, even in the middle of trying to feed her. These episodes are a challenge because though she hears what is going on around her, she cannot respond. She has depended upon me to be her rock, and I questioned myself for the first time.

What scared me the most was what if she no longer remembers me? Failed recognition is a common occurrence for dementia patients, and this has not been the case for my wife and me thus far in her illness. What if the tumor took her sweet smile and soft eyes away, how would I respond?

I found a different hope in the darkness of that hour and this morning when I woke up. I have loved my wife unconditionally and will continue to do so until the day she is taken home to be with her Lord. There is nothing I can do in the darkness that God cannot bring into His light. There is nothing I need to worry about. God has plans for all these events.

God has taught me another life lesson. Unconditional love has no bounds. It cannot be contained, and this is how we are to live our lives. We need to look to God for the blessings and not the rewards of humanity. My wife has not been able to do anything for herself for several months, and that has been an acceptable burden for me to carry. My reward has been her smile and soft eyes and a sweet spirit that oozes from her just from a single glance in my direction.

I realized that this too might soon go, and my reward will be a job well done caring for my bride, friend, the mother of my children, and knowing that this is God’s call for my life at this moment.

What do you work for? Do you work for the reward that you receive? Spend a moment and look deeply at your reasons for doing. Know that your real bonus is not of this time or place, but instead is bound in heaven. When we choose to work to the glory, honor, and praise of God, it makes all the difference in this world and the life to come. — Bob Harbick

“Unconditional love has no bounds. It cannot be contained, and this is how we are to live our lives. We need to look to God for the blessings and not the rewards.”

During his own personal crisis, Bob has discovered and shared with us valuable lessons about unconditional love during times of trial.

REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at larrydavies@vaumc.org.