A Promise Kept

I’ve stood with scores of couples through the years as they shared their vows with each other. I was prompted through them by my pastor in 1983 when Sandy and I exchanged vows…

In the name of God,
I, Worth, take you, Sandy
to be my wedded wife,
to have and to hold
from this day forward,
for better for worse, for
richer for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
till death do us part,
This is my solemn vow.

When we exchange our vows, it is easy to dream about love that will last a lifetime.  But, what about the true cost of walking together for a lifetime? At the time we exchange vows we do not know what the future holds and all of the ways those sacred promises will come under attack.

keptYears ago, I had the privilege of reading Robertson McQuilkin’s book entitled: A Promise Kept.  Robertson and his wife Muriel spent over a decade as missionaries in Japan. Then Robertson became president of Columbia Bible College and Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina.  Things were going along swimmingly in their marriage until Muriel began to repeat stories she had already told. Her memory was slipping away. Robertson could not believe the diagnosis when he was told she had Alzheimer’s.  She seemed to most of her abilities, yet her ability to remember was slipping away.

Of course, husband and wife rallied together to cope with the changed circumstances.  Robertson can keep working though she was struggling.  But, he noticed a change in her. When he would leave for work, she would become more confused and unhappy. When he was present she seemed calm and peaceful.

Then Robertson did the thing that shocked everyone.  In the height of his career and the success of his leadership, he resigned.  When he spoke to the staff and leadership of the college, and to the community, he said:

My dear wife, Muriel, has been in failing health for about eight years, and so far I have been able to carry both her growing needs and my leadership responsibilities here at the school.  But recently, it has become apparent that Muriel is contented most of the time she is with me and none of the time I am away from her…. So it is clear to me that she needs me now full-time.  The decision was made to stay with her forty-two years ago when I promised to care for Muriel in sickness and in health… She has cared for me fully and sacrificed as my wife all these years.  If I cared for her for the next forty years, I would not be out of 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, an occasional flash of wit that I used to relish so, her happy spirit…I don’t have to care for her.  I get to.  It is a high honor to care for so wonderful a person.

Everyone was stunned.  In our world of individual rights and personal accomplishments, here was a man loving his wife, being faithful to his promise. It was beautiful.

Why was it beautiful? God planned marriage as the place on earth that we humans can get the closest to reflecting the love of God for us.  Maybe, just maybe when there is love that is faithful like this we will be able to get a small glimpse of what Jesus has done for us.  Maybe from this high vantage point, we can see the Lord himself, that his promise is our life, and that he is faithful not because he has to, but because he really does love his people.

Christmas is the story of God’s promise kept.  This is why Jesus came, and why Jesus did what he did for us, laying aside his rights and choosing instead to lay down his life for us.  And yes, all of this rests on something as fragile as a promise.  Of course, a promise is as strong as the love of the one who makes it.  That is why we can feel secure.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

In this, we rejoice this Christmas.  We have been loved by Love Himself.  And, we live every day in this promise.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Sandy on January 26, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Beautiful. Thankful.

    Reply

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