Robertson Mcquilkin's Long Journey - Guidelines Devotional
April 10, 2015

Robertson Mcquilkin’s Long Journey

Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark12:30

One of the men who ranks high on my list of heroes is Robertson McQuilkin, whose world began to change some 25 years ago when his wife repeated a story she had told just five minutes before. “Funny,” thought her husband, “that’s never happened before.” But happen again it did, and with a frequency that soon made him realize something was wrong.

Three years later, a young doctor called Robertson aside and said, “You may need to think about the possibility of Alzheimer’s.” He was incredulous. “These young doctors are presumptuous—and insensitive,” he thought.   But soon what the young physician suspected was confirmed.

Muriel was slowly embarking on a dark journey into a netherworld from which there is no return, one which leaves a husband, children, and friends completely disconnected. Soon friends were suggesting, and then saying, “Look, Muriel doesn’t know you any more. She’s not the same person you married. Why not put her in an institution so you can get on with your life?”

This confronted Dr. Robertson McQuilkin with an issue he had never anticipated when he vowed to be there “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death shall separate us.” Dr. McQuilkin was president of Columbia Bible College and Seminary, now known as Columbia International University. As Muriel became more and more demanding, Dr. McQuilkin was torn between two loves: Should he put her in a care facility and give his time and energies to developing a thriving institution? Or should he give us his position and devote all his time and energies to being there for his wife? There were several years of struggle which pulled him both ways. Well-meaning friends urged him to put the kingdom of God first.

Yes, he loved his wife dearly and he also loved what he was doing. While most men would be pulled between two loves, he says, “When the time came, the decision was firm. It was no great calculation, nor was it terribly difficult.” He knew what he had to do and did it. It was a matter of integrity. He asks, “Had I not promised, 42 years before, ‘in sickness and in health…till death do us part’?”

He resigned and devoted the next twenty-five years of his life showing the world what commitment and love are all about. And for that, Robert McQuilkin modeled what the real commitment of Christian marriage is about.

“People who do not know me well have said, ‘Well, you always said, “God first, family second, ministry third.’” But I never said that. To put God first means that all other responsibilities are first, too.” It was that simple with him.

Ponder, if you would, the power and implications of his last statement: “To put God first means that all other responsibilities are first, too!”

Loving your wife as Christ loved the church falls under that heading, and it’s a painful part of love. Mother Teresa once said that there can be no true love without pain. If she’s right, then Robert McQuilkin loved greatly.

On September 20, 2003, Muriel slipped into the presence of the Lord. In an article for Christianity Today McQuilkin recalls that when Joy Gresham, the wife of C.S. Lewis, was dying, Lewis mentioned that their joy would soon end, and his dying wife responded, “The pain is part of the happiness. That’s the deal.”

Would Dr. McQuilkin make the same decision if he had to do it again? In a heart beat. Of that, there is no question. His commitment to Muriel and to God teaches us so much about Jesus’ love for the church. In letting us know what confronted him, Dr. McQuilkin has taught us all lessons that could never be learned in a classroom. Indeed.

Resource reading: Mark 12.

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