GOD AT WORK
By Colin Baillie
I suppose if someone was to ask me what I do, I would reply that I am first and foremost a paediatrician and lastly a surgeon - totally dependent on the skills of those around me (nurses, radiologists, anaesthetists, and other hospital specialists) to practice. Working at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital is a team effort, and a genuinely humbling experience.
The one predictable thing about my daily grind is its unpredictability. Much of my time is spent in clinics seeing patients or working in the operating theatre. Whilst ninety percent of what I do is routine and can be done on autopilot, it is the remainder that provides the drama/excitement. Unfortunately, the unexpected doesn’t just happen on my one in six on call days, as children with chronic surgical problems can get into difficulty at any time. This means I’m extremely unreliable with evening engagements (ask Small Group!). As I get closer to 50, I find I am no longer any good at coping with disturbed nights on call, so I have learned to take every opportunity for rest and therefore never arrive early for anything. Sadly I’m not a morning person nor very disciplined spiritually. Prayer now happens “on the go”. Losing my car radio though has had a beneficial effect on my prayer life, allowing me a half hour with only God for company during the drive to work.
I have known folk say that living as a Christian in a medical job is clearly vocational and that it must therefore sit comfortably with living a life of faith. Not true. Christian medical students are at risk of giving up their faith in the early years of their medical careers. I still find it a daily battleground reconciling faith in Jesus with my experience of hospital life, and indeed was hopelessly backsliding for the vast majority of my career, before God gave me another chance with Him three years ago.
I struggle with the whole area of healing. It’s a messy business – with Jesus it all seemed so clear cut. One of the difficulties for me as a believer practicing medicine is that the God’s role can so easily seem superfluous or even irrelevant. Since coming back to a living faith in a miracle-working Saviour, I do try to involve Jesus in real clinical situations by crying out to Him in the Spirit, and asking Him to use my hands, whether holding a knife or just touching someone. It is fantastic to be able to hand over a bad situation in the operating theatre to the living God. I occasionally say to the team that if they are praying folk – now would be a good time! Although I don’t dance in church yet, a dance of victory usually follows an answer to these arrow prayers.
I am often frustrated in my work trying to see the relevance of what I do in Kingdom terms. So much effort is expended for little obvious spiritual advancement. Friends tell me this is a mid-life crisis, but I’ve got that tee shirt, and am not planning for another. Whether I should be continuing beyond fifty is a real question for me, but God will have to show me if I have anything else to offer in another arena.