Robertson McQuilkin wrote a book entitled, A Promise Kept: The Story of an Unforgettable Love, about his journey with his beloved, Muriel, as she experienced the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. A Promise Kept is a story of love and commitment that withstands the heartache and the heartbreak of a disease that robs a person of their memory and their identity. It’s a story about a man who decided to keep a promise.
Serena Wang in her Power to Change blog wrote that “the Chinese culture places a great importance on personal integrity. When our ancestors invented the Chinese character for the word integrity, they simply combined the Chinese character ‘Person’ with ‘Word’. In other words, a man’s word spells his integrity. This differs greatly from the Western culture, where everything needs to have proper documentation to back it up. So how much is integrity worth in our modern society?”
The Bible places great emphasis on being a promise keeper. Our greatest example is God, Himself. He is the preeminent Promise Keeper as Solomon indicated when he prayed, “O Lord, the God of Israel, there is no god like You in heaven or on earth, keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart; who has kept with Your servant David, my father, that which You have promised him; indeed You have spoken with Your mouth and have fulfilled it with Your hand, as it is this day.” 2 Chronicles 6:14-15
On their wedding day, almost every couple says vows to one another. Most vows speak of staying united through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse. I believe that most couples mean it when they say it. However, couples are challenged when they have to live out their vows because sometimes sickness comes and better turns into worse.
So it was for Robertson and Muriel McQuilkin. Life was at its best when things turned into worse.
Serena Wang writes: “Recently I read a book called A Promise Kept. It turned out to be one of the best books I’ve ever read. My husband loved it so much that he read it several times and bought about a dozen more copies to give to family and friends. The author of the book is Dr. Robertson McQuilkin, who was the president of Columbia University in South Carolina for 22 years. In 1990, he decided to step down from his prestigious post in order to take care of his wife Julie. Julie had Alzheimer’s disease and required constant care 24 hours a day…
Dr. McQuilkin and his wife Julie were fulltime missionaries in Japan for 12 years. Julie also worked in the academics field, public broadcasting and student counseling for many years. When Dr. McQuilkin walked away from his position as the University president, he was at the peak of his career. Nevertheless, he chose to give up his fame, accomplishments, job and wealth solely to take care of his wife 24 hours a day.
According to research, when a wife is struck with a terminal disease, 90% of the husbands in that situation will choose to leave. So what power helped Dr. McQuilkin to win the battles against the tragedies in his life? In a short span of time, the life of his eldest son was lost in an accident, then his wife developed Alzheimer’s disease. That led him to walk away from a glorious career with unlimited potentials. He could choose to grumble and regret, but instead he chose to continue loving his wife and keep his vow before God.”
Robertson McQuilkin chose to keep the promise he made to his wife. His life and example has had a profound effect on many lives. It’s the power of A Promise Kept.
One of my favorite seminary professors, Dr. Lewis Smedes, spoke of the family as “as a community of promises made and promises kept no matter what”.
He wrote, “A family is not just two or more people related by marriage or blood who happen to live under one roof. A family is not a management device by which two adults shuffle children around to the various experts who do the real rearing. A family is a community of people who dare to make a promise and care enough to keep it—no matter what. A family is held together by promises: where promises fail, families fail. The rebirth of the family can begin only in the rebirth of promise keeping.”
Robertson McQuilkin dared to make a promise to his wife and to God on his wedding day and cared enough to keep it. The final saga of his wife’s life was all about A Promise Kept.
Those of you who are married… you made a promise on your wedding day. Whatever is going on in your lives today, are you all about A Promise Kept?
Something to think about and more next week…