Robertson McQuilken’s resignation as a college president to care for his Alzheimer’s-stricken wife is a great illustration.
The evening news tells the story of a world filled with unfaithfulness, and the folly of ego run rampant. But everyday
Christian believers can think of illustrations more similar to McQuilken’s. Why a story of adultery or the objectification
of women is considered more newsworthy than the accounts many pastors could share of touching examples of
faithfulness and commitment is a sad commentary on our time. Paul & Lillian were members who had worked in education for many years.
Paul was a school administrator, and Lillian a teacher. When they retired, they continued to serve, doing meals on wheels, helping with our church’s outreach in Appalachia. Lillian then was stricken with Alzheimer’s. Paul cared for Lillian at home as long as he could, and then regularly came to see Lillian at the nursing home. He’d feed his wife bites of fruit, or play CD’s of Tennessee Ernie Ford singing gospel songs. Other church members did what they could to
encourage Paul’s faithful devotion to Lillian, “For better or worse, in sickness and health, till death do us part.”
Our discussion centered around the thought that to be faithful requires that a person has one or more beliefs. Faithfulness is staying to the course set by the beliefs. A person without core beliefs is like a rudderless ship, forever bouncing around at the whim of the wind and the waves (think “Political Correctness” and “stress to conform”). Such a vessel will not arrive at its port of destination. For those who proclaim themselves to be Christians, that set of beliefs should be centered around God, Jesus and the Bible. Anyone who has these beliefs has a clear road of faithfulness. However, oftentimes it is difficult for us to follow that road, as we are tempted, distracted, coerced, perhaps even threatened to act otherwise. We acknowledged that our belief is that our reward is in Heaven with Jesus, not in the accumulation of anything here on earth. However, a little venture down the road of earthly success (via faithfulness) would not be shunned by any of us (smile). We were reminded that “Believe” is an action verb and if we are to faithfully believe, we have to direct our actions thusly – through faithfulness. Without our faith, we are nothing but a rudderless ship at the mercy of the elements.
We were touched by the story of Mr. McQuilken leaving his career behind to care for his ailing wife. We shared different stories of times when we showed faithfulness to God by caring for others around us. Pamela Reeves wrote in her book “Faith is” “Faith is resting in the fact that God has an objective in leaving me on the scene when I feel useless to Him and a burden to others.” In John 21 Jesus told Peter if you love me feed and tend my sheep. Faithfulness to God is expressed in the way we care for other people and all of God’s creation. True faithfulness is a deliberate act learned and practiced on a daily basis which will build our character and eventually become who we are.
In II Sam. 16, we read of King David, whose own son Absalom had rebelled against him,
is being cursed, and worse, by a member of the house of Saul, his political rival. It
seemed things couldn’t get much worse for David, and Abishai, one of David’s
loyal soldiers, gladly volunteered to “off” David’s cursing detractor. It was a moment
made to headline the Jerusalem Evening News: “Harried King David decides to Strike Back at Detractor.” After all, people like a political leader who talks tough and isn’t hesitant to back it up! But David as the harried king forbid vengeance, seeming to say maybe he had it coming; maybe God would repay him with good
for the cursing he endured that day.
Later on, Son of David Jesus, proclaimed “Come to me, all you that are weary …
and I will give you rest…Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls…” In I Peter 5 we read “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God… Cast all your anxiety on him, because He cares for you….Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him… the God of all grace, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.”