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The Joy of Love Incarnate

December 29, 2011

This Christmas, I pray that our hearts are moved to go to the next level of relationship with the One who loves us so much that he was willing to do whatever it would take to be with us always as our Emmanuel.

Robert P. Heaney writes:
In Jesus we recognize that self-giving is the very nature of God. But as the God-man he also shows us what it is to be truly human –that truly “normal”, truly human, life also consists of total self-giving. For Jesus is not just the “very imprint of God’s being” but the norm – as in “normal” – the very model of what true humanity is.

And so we remember this Christmas that this love story is about God’s so loving us that he wants to be with us, and also within us, loving others through us, as we receive him, so that he may enter in and transform our hearts and our lives to shine forth his light. 

It’s an invitation to go through existence together.

Robertson McQuilkin had been the President of Columbia Bible College and Seminary for 22 years when he had a major decision he had to make. His wife, Muriel, had Alzheimer’s that had progressed to the point where she needed constant care. What should be sacrificed: ministry or caring for Muriel?

Here is McQuilkin’s resignation speech:
I haven’t in my life experienced easy decision making on major decisions. But one of the simplest and clearest decisions I’ve had to make is this one, because circumstances dictated it. Muriel now in the last couple of months seems to be almost happy when with me, and almost never happy when not with me. In fact she seems to feel trapped, becomes very fearful, sometimes almost terror, and when she can’t get to me there can be anger, she’s in distress. But when I am with her she’s happy and contented. And so I must be with her at all times. And you see, it’s not only that I promised in sickness and in health till death do us part, and I am a man of my word, but as I have said, I don’t know with this group, but I have said publicly, it’s the only fair thing. She sacrificed for me for forty years, to make my life possible. So if I cared for her for forty years, I would still be in debt. However, there is much more. It’s not that I have to, it’s that I get to. I love her very dearly, and you can tell it’s not easy to talk about. She is a delight. It’s a great honor to care for such a wonderful person.

McQuilkin resigned to care for his wife full time in 1990. She stopped recognizing him in 1993. McQuilkin continued to care for Muriel, changing and feeding her, and above all loving her, until she died on September 20, 2003, at the age of 81.

May we all know that we have a God who is committed to being with us like this, and gives of himself to us, without holding anything back, and out of his love for us, considers the sacrifice of the Incarnation, and even the Cross itself, his greatest joy.

Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among and within every one of us –
all God’s beloved, on whom his favour rests and abides for evermore. Amen!

(from the conclusion to my Christmas Eve sermon)


Robertson McQuilkin shares their love story in his book, A Promise Kept. A shorter summary of this story can be accessed by clicking here.

An audio recording of Robertson McQuilkin’s resignation speech, with accompanying pictures of Muriel and Robertson McQuilkin, is embedded below.

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