Being open to God’s will and trusting Him to make it plain.
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Significant in my life have been my brother who was the first in the family to become a Christian, my parents, who also became Christians, and my Sunday School teachers. I owe them so much.
When my brother suggested to me that I do medicine, previously not even considered a possibility, I jumped at the prospect of being a Christian doctor/healer. Despite a seven year age gap, we went through medicine together. Many of you will know Malcolm’s story To the City of the Great King (Ark House).
I worked hard in the early years to pay off debt and was very conscious of God’s blessing in using the practice for His glory, particularly in the counselling area and in my talks on depression throughout WA.
The role of healer became stronger and I was influenced by Michael Balint, Henri Nouwen, and Paul Tournier.
The principle of guidance that has worked for me/us has always been a willingness to follow where God leads. And I am reminded of Lucy following Aslan when the others could not see him but as they followed in obedience Aslan gradually became more visible (Prince Caspian by CS Lewis).
I have been ‘accused’ of not being ‘ambitious’ when various opportunities have arisen to be other than ‘just a GP’ but, as there has been no conviction for any of these, I have said ‘no’. This is in sharp contrast to other occasions when I have been exercised in my mind to explore deeper truths and then the opportunity presenting itself for using this particular learning: preparation followed by call.
A good example of this was when I was analysing my own counselling strategies, coming to conclusions that were good for me and wrote a paper for myself on counselling in a Christian context. Within weeks I was asked to be part of a steering committee to set up a Baptist Counselling Service in WA to which I agreed and for the next fifteen years I was the chair or acting director of what became Pathways Counselling.
No dilemmas here – it was just willingness to be open to a ‘call’ when the context was right. ‘Circumstantial guidance’? Yes, I guess so, but also knowing it was right at a deeper level.
No dilemmas here – it was just willingness to be open to a ‘call’ when the context was right. ‘Circumstantial guidance’? Yes, I guess so, but knowing it was right at a deeper level.
This was confirmed again when, after presenting a paper at Baptist Assembly on the proposed counselling service, I became convinced of a need for more involvement in Baptist activities. A short while later – just weeks – one of our close career missionary friends returned to Australia on leave and sitting behind me in church tapped me on the shoulder and said “Lachlan, what are you doing for the rest of your life?” I thought, with friends like that, who needs enemies? I laughed and said I was content doing what I was doing until God showed me otherwise. But it forced me to examine, once again, how I believed God had guided me and came to the same conclusion as before, that God would make it plain when I was to change tack.
Within a week or two – once again, preparation before the call – I received an invitation to be the next President of Baptist Union in WA. I showed it to my patient and loving wife, Lizzie, who laughed with me knowing, without any shadow of hesitation, that it was right to walk through this next open door.
Part of that role, as the first medical doctor to hold that position, was to be healer (once again) in restoring unity in Baptist churches in WA after a divisive doctrinal issue. It also threw me into ethical and moral issues of the time and that kick-started welding together church leaders in WA for combined statements on such matters.
I became aware of the need for a wider Christian ‘medical’ voice and remember writing in 1995 to CMDFA asking for pronouncements on certain issues, only to be distressed by the impossibility of welding together such a voice due to widely disparate views within CMDFA.
I was distressed again in 2002 at the same impossibility on the issue of destructive embryo research. (CMDFA, as you know, now has an ethics committee.)
It was then, I have realised in retrospect, the mode of guidance changed and had been changing for some years. It was a combination of being ‘burdened’ with the (by now) many issues – particularly attacks centred on mankind being created in the Image of God and when life begins – and then deliberately asking, “What’s next, Lord?”
The sense of burden became very heavy, and it became clear that we – God’s people – needed a wider voice and that I was to be a part of this. I remember arguing with God: “I’m not an ethicist, I’m not a specialist, I’m not a theologian”. Useless – I had no choice – to say ‘no’ would have been an act of sheer disobedience. And so it was that then I ran for Senate.
This was a very lonely decision and only discussed on one brief occasion with a significant friend. There’s a lot more to this part of the story and although I wasn’t elected, and only beaten on the postal votes for upper house the following year in WA, it was a significant time for a Christian political voice in WA.
My continuing journey has been the combination of ‘burden’ and, “Please show me the way, Lord.” The journey is shown in the websites below. I also saw the need, as did others, for a Canberra Declaration and contributed to this.
Amazingly, in recent years, some of the most lucid moments of guidance have come while in the bathroom and I have had to reflect, “Lord, is that the only place where I am so completely disconnected that I can hear Your voice?” I have also learnt at such times not to seek second opinions but, like Joseph in Bethlehem, to get up in the middle of the night (or out of the bathroom) and proceed.
“I can see that the role of healer/advocate/village GP seamlessly extended from ‘comforting the disturbed’ to ;disturbing the comfortable’, to negotiator, and eventually to confrontation.”
Also, in retrospect, I can see that the role of healer/advocate/village GP seamlessly extended from “comforting the disturbed” to “disturbing the comfortable” to negotiator and eventually to confrontation.
Sometimes you just gently teach
Sometimes you preach with invitation
Sometimes you confront and challenge
Sometimes you have to condemn
Sometimes you have to drive the money-changers out of the temple
Sometimes you have to walk with Christ to Calvary.
“My main burden at this time… is to waken God’s people to the seriousness of future persecution for what we believe.”
My main burden at this time – shared by many – is to waken God’s people to the seriousness of future persecution for what we believe and to prepare ourselves and our children and grandchildren for when walls have ears and when the ‘confessing church’ will be driven underground. Already ‘permission has become compulsion’ and the ‘chronicle of shame’ gets heavier day by day.
What have been my Sustainers and Drivers?
• Initially, simply willingness and obedience. Being open to God’s will and trusting Him to make it plain through the right circumstance: “This is the way, walk in it,” with an underlying sense of call to be healer and advocate.
• Personal ambition? Zero. Yes, I am totally sincere when I say that, except that in whatever task God gave me, to do it well. Authoritative? Never, but I still wonder why my friends laugh at me when I say that.
• The final driver was the need to respond to issues of destruction, a God-given burden for the same, the need for a Christian voice, and that I was to be a part of that voice. Realising more and more the watchman role, waking God’s people, educating, and to be a voice. A united voice for leaders. A united voice for ethics in medicine.
Has the way been smooth? No, but my sustainer is, and has always been, my Lord and my God. God IS in charge and Jesus is coming again and every knee will bow before Him. Even so, come Lord Jesus.
How do we live with these tensions and burdens?
I believe our formula should be:
• Joy for today (praising God for all that He gives us to enjoy).
• Excitement for tomorrow (trusting in knowledge that He is coming again and all will be made right).
• Grief for our nation (the moral decline of the West).
• Mourning for the suffering world (our brothers and sisters in the suffering church).
Appendix 1: Family
Lizzie, my wife of 52 years, is still the joy of my life as are our four children and the nine grandchildren God has blessed us with.
Appendix 2: Medical Practice
For those who know something of the St Luke’s GP Medical Group journey it has just been sold after 47 years, having been built in 1968 as part-house and part-surgery. We lived on the premises for 6 years before knocking down a store-room wall and converting it all to a medical surgery. Liz and I had decided – under God – that we would have closed or sold by the end of 2015 (when this article was written).
A week before contacting a broker for medical practices a Christian doctor approached me having heard from a patient who attends the same church as he does that we might be closing – so how’s that for an answer to four years of considering and praying?!
My intention is to cut my working hours down to ten hours per week by next year. My life as a doctor has been one, by the mercy of God, of huge privilege. I am now employed by the purchaser!
Appendix 3: CS Lewis
Back in the 1990s I was a contributor to the “CS Lewis List”. I loved the literary contributions made to the list but ultimately realised there was, for some contributors, a disconnect between the esoteric value of Lewis’ writings and his prophetic role, eg. The Abolition of Man as highlighted in the book of that name, and the novel, That Hideous Strength. I have been pleasantly surprised to discover that many like-minded people have also been influenced in their journey by The Abolition of Man.
Appendix 4: The Challenges
The battle for medicine
• Liberty of Conscience in Medicine, linked to Doctors as mere “providers of medical services” vs Doctors with Conscience.
• Informed Consent.
• Law of the State overriding medical ethics. Permission becomes Compulsion.
• Life – it’s definition, when does it begin and when does it become of value?
The battle for the church
• Liberty of belief.
• To speak of what we believe.
• To teach what we believe. Permission becomes Compulsion.
• Liberty to shield our children from evil influences.
• Liberty to preach the Bible, to speak truth, to even believe ‘truth’.
Have we reached a point of no return for the West? A new dark age? Does a new paganism grip the West? The death of the Western Church? But even if there is no return, no “Great Southland of the Holy Spirit”, should we not continue to be a Voice? l
Dr Lachlan Dunjey
Dr Lachlan Dunjey is grateful to God for almost 55 years in general practice, having finally retired this year (2015). He knows there is still much to do and seemingly so little time. He is still involved in ethical and moral issues that challenge both medicine and our nation through his websites, but is interested to hear from anyone led to take them over:
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