Until her dying day, Kaye O’Bara kept a promise she made to her daughter Edwarda nearly four decades earlier. In 1970, when Edwarda was only 16, she became very sick from complications with her diabetes. Though her parents rushed her to the hospital, she slipped into a diabetic coma. As she began to lose consciousness, Edwarda grasped her mother’s hand and pleaded, “Promise you won’t leave my side, Mama.” “I promise,” Kaye answered.
Many would have dismissed such a rash promise, especially when it began to cost so much and cut so deeply. For Edwarda never woke from her coma. And for the next 38 years Kaye O’Bara remained at her daughter’s side, just as she promised. And staying at her side required a lot of work and constant care. Kaye had to turn her daughter over every two hours to prevent bedsores, had to clean her, feed her through a tube, and administer her medication. Yet she never left her daughter. In fact, only her own death in 2008 took her from her daughter’s side. At that point her sister Colleen took charge and resumed the around the clock vigil. Then, on November 21, 2012, Edwarda opened her eyes, peered at Coleen with a grand smile, then softly passed away.
Some may criticize this mother’s love. They may say it was irrational for a family to allow their lives to be ruled by the needs of one person – a person who had little hope of recovery. Yes, unconditional love is so hard for us to grasp. It isn’t rational or pragmatic. In 38 years, Edwarda achieved nothing scholastically to make her mother proud. She never gained success in life or made any great accomplishments for her mom to brag about to friends. Kaye O’Bara would never see her daughter’s wedding. Edwarda would never give her mother grandchildren to cherish. But Kaye O’Bara loved her all the same – and kept on loving her regardless of the cost.
You may call it misguided or misplaced love. You may call such love ill-advised. You might even call such extremes of love pathological. But it might interest you to know that this is the same way God loves you and me – times infinity. God loves us unconditionally.
When we are nothing but a burden, God loves us. When we have no good to our credit – no good deeds, no accomplishments, and no achievements – God loves us. And when we are broken beyond any hope of recovery, God still loves us. He loves us as His children. And even though a mother’s love may have its limitations, God’s has none.
Jesus put it this way, “If then, you who are evil know how to give what is good to your children, then how much more shall your Father in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:10-11). In other words, whatever good we do for our children, God outdoes it for His. However deeply and unconditionally we love our children, God loves His children infinitely more.
Isaiah the prophet wrote, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Even though she may forget, I will not forget you” (Isaiah 49:15).
Don’t get any ideas that God loves you for what He can get out of you or for what you can give Him in return. God loves you because of who He is and because you are His child. Rest in His love. Respond to His love. Flee into His loving embrace. This is what you were created for.
PRAYER: Dear Father in Heaven, please wake me up to the reality of Your love and help me to flee into Your divine embrace. Amen.