“Do not be overly concerned about your defects. Instead concentrate on having an unceasing love for Jesus, and you shall be much forgiven, because you have loved much. (Luke 7:47). However, we need to be aware of the tendency to seek the good feelings and selfish thrills of love (which are the by-products of love) instead of love itself. We can so easily deceive ourselves on this matter.”
– François Fénelon, 17th century Archbishop and spiritual advisor to courtiers of Louis XIV.
This Valentine’s Day, I’d like to talk about a man who truly cherished his wife. His name is Robertson McQuilkin, former missionary to Japan and later president of Columbia International University. At the age of 58, his wife Muriel was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. During the course of the next two decades, Robertson resigned his position and cared for her with such tenderness and affection that it can truly be said that Muriel was a cherished wife. Their story is told in this book, A Promise Kept, which says, “Sharing lessons learned from his own marriage, Robertson McQuilkin shows how weakness generates strength, servanthood births freedom, joy is found in a promise kept. For anyone who has ever loved.”
He writes, “In the summer of ’95 Muriel’s right hand went limp – the first major decline since she lost the ability to stand and feed herself eighteen months before. A little loss, you would think, but I shed a few tears. It’s almost like part of me dies with each of her little deaths. That precious hand, so creative, so loving, so busy for me and everyone else. But it wasn’t just the old memories. That right hand was the last way she had to communicate. She would reach out to hold my hands, pat me on the back when I hugged her, push me away when she didn’t like what I was doing. I missed her hand. Memories, sweet and bittersweet.”
My prayer is that we all would learn to love as this man did. In our increasingly self-centered culture, it’s such a joy to know of people who devote themselves to God and family, and who love with selfless, tender care.