Monday, October 6, 2014

Book Review on Robertson McQuilkin's A Promise Kept

Ours is a day of passionate pursuit of self fulfillment. And the folk wisdom of  twentieth-century America holds that fulfillment can be found only in freedom. So, if some responsibility or commitment, some relationship or value shackles, you have a moral obligation to yourself to break free. 

But it's a fantasy. That doorway to freedom and fulfillment may turn out to be the doorway to a stronger imprisonment. I've watched in sadness as many friends and acquaintances march through that doorway. The new bondage may be subterranean, below the level of consciousness, even. But such a person has broken one set of shackles only to shut himself or herself off from the soaring freedom of experiencing God's highest and best. He who preserves his life, affirming himself, will lose it all, says Jesus. Only the one who can say no to self-interest for Christ and the gospel cause can ever find the treasure of true life--freedom and fulfillment in Christ. But we don't seem to get it. 

-Robertson McQuilkin

This book honestly surprised me. I was expecting a somewhat mushy love story and was deeply and pleasantly surprised by the rock-solid content and anything but mushy love and commitment of the author toward his failing wife. 

It is the brief story, written almost journal-like and poetically, of Robertson McQuilkin and his wife Muriel, the latter who was diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease and the former who became her full-time caregiver until her death. 

McQuilkin was at the height of his career as President of Columbia Bible College and Seminary (now Columbia International University) when he made the decision to step down from that position in order to care for his wife. 

This decision both intrigued and unnerved McQuilkin's friends and acquaintances, but regardless of the response toward his decision, McQuilkin was convinced that it was the step of obedience that the Lord was leading him personally to take. 

In his Acknowledgements, McQuilkin emphasizes that his decision was a personal conviction and that he isn't advocating his response to his wife's sickness as the only right way to care for a loved one. He says, "I hope none will hear me advocating my approach as the only or best approach in all circumstances. I'm just telling my story, celebrating the joys of married love, not pushing a specific agenda for caregiving." 

McQuilkin's conviction was that he alone could give Muriel the best possible care; he realized his constant presence gave her a sense of security amid all of the confusion that she experienced in gradually losing her memory more and more. These are the words that McQuilkin shared in chapel at Columbia Bible College regarding his decision to resign as President in order to fully care for his wife: "The decision was made, in a way, 42 years ago when I promised to care for Muriel 'in sickness and in health . . . till death do us part.' So as I told the students and faculty, as a man of my word, integrity has something to do with it. But so does fairness. She has cared for me fully and sacrificially all these years; if I cared for her for the next 40 years I would not be out of her debt. Duty, however, can be grim and stoic. But there is more: I love Muriel. She is a delight to me--her childlike dependence and confidence in me, her warm love, occasional flashes of that wit I used to relish so, her happy spirit and tough resilience in the face of continual distressing frustration. I don't have to care for her. I get to! It is a high honor to care for so wonderful a person." 

McQuilkin dispatched his duty of love to his wife until the day of her death and faithfully cared for Muriel until her passing to heaven. 

This is a beautiful, true story of greater love, one to savor and to mull over. I would highly recommend it. 

If you'd like to read Christianity Today's interview with Robertson McQuilkin, please click here

I'll share some of my own thoughts about McQuilkin's decision/commitment in next week's post--The Crucible and the Covenant. 

To purchase the book through Amazon:

I share my posts with these blogs: Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth, The Modest Mom, What Joy is Mine, Yes They Are All Ours, Missional Call, A Mama's Story, Mom's the Word, Rich Faith Rising, Time Warp Wife, Cornerstone Confessions, Mom's Morning Coffee, So Much at Home, Raising Homemakers, Hope in Every Season, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries, Whole-Hearted Home, A Soft Gentle Voice, My Daily Walk in His Grace, Messy Marriage, My Teacher's Name is Mama, The Charm of Home, Graced Simplicity, Children Are A Blessing, Mittenstate Sheep and Wool, Imparting Grace, Homestead Lady, Deborah Jean's Dandelion House, Preparedness Mama, A Look at the Book, Essential Thing Devotions, Count My Blessings, Beauty Observed, Christian Mommy Blogger, Serenity You, Renewed Daily, Sunday Stillness, The Beauty in His Grip, Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom.


  1. Awww, that is a really nice story. I liked the 'I don't have to care for her. I get to!' Thanks for sharing this at Rich Faith Rising. I enjoyed the post!

  2. What a special love he had for his wife! Such a contrast to the marriages we see on TV!

  3. What a beautiful story of commitment, dedication, perseverance...and love.