The book illustrated here offers a wonderful testimony of fidelity in marriage. Robertson McQuilkin was happily married to Muriel, one whom he considered in every respect the perfect wife – in expressing affection, in preferring the other, in shouldering the burdens in partnership, in constant companionship, in endurance in testing.
Robertson had been appointed President of Columbia International University (Columbia, South Carolina). Muriel ably performed the functions of “first wife” on campus – entertaining, teaching young women’s Bible groups, creating radio broadcasts, facilitating study for handicapped students. But in her 55th year memory obviously began to fade and early Alzheimer’s quickly did its terrible work.
After 35 years of marriage, Robertson faced the decision of university responsibilities or intensive attention to his rapidly failing wife. He chose the latter and graciously insisted that it was an easy decision and no perceived hardship. Muriel had so lovingly cared for him in their first 35 years…
For the final 10 years (1994-2004) Muriel was bed-ridden and unable to talk.
Robertson insists that there were rich lessons to be had from his wife even at that point. She could not talk or relate, only grunt occasionally her displeasure or quizzical humour. Still Robertson poured on the love, conversation and encouragement. One day in prayer he was provoked to ask God, “Is that what is going on with us Father? You gladly bestow the love, attention and help, and I offer only slight responses or none at all?” He believed that He had touched the Father’s heart in an exceptional way. It was about irrevocable promises of love.
An interesting story was also told from a time when the two were still able to take slow-paced walks around their neighbourhood. Robertson had been somewhat down in spirits and had expressed in prayer something like the following: “Lord, ever since salvation I have been yours without reserve. I do not presume to ask your reasons for doing things, but you know, even a team coach who pulls a player to the bench will eventually give a hint as to his reasons. Now Lord, if you were ever prepared to give me a hint that would be OK”.
The couple, while walking shortly thereafter, overtook an old drunken derelict. Obviously the man was watching them, as they were pacing slowly, holding hands, treasuring the time. The old boy caught up to them, stared straight at them and said, “Dass good. Dass rill good.” He repeated himself, turned and staggered away.
“Lord, was that your answer, your hint through this poor, worn-out man?” The Spirit said yes.