The Doctor’s Bible

Doctors BibleLeaving his anxious Christian family behind, he went off to become a medical student… Faith Cook tells the story.

It was 1856.

Seventeen-year-old William Mackay was about to leave his home in Montrose, Scotland to start his medical studies in Edinburgh. An ambitious and intelligent young man, he was eagerly anticipating his future career, but as his mother helped William pack his belongings, she felt a dart of anxiety.

Would her son remember the faith that his parents had taught him? Carefully she slipped a parting gift into William’s trunk – a Bible, inscribing it with her son’s name and with her own. Underneath she added a verse as a beacon to guide the young man through the maze of temptations which might so easily entangle him.

Despising the Scriptures

Quickly absorbed into his new surroundings and studies, William paid little attention to his mother’s gift. The Bible lay in his room neglected. His new friends had little time for those truths that William had been taught to respect. Unbelieving and cynical, they looked with contempt on anyone who held such long outmoded ideas. Soon William, too, started to spurn the faith he had learnt at home. Like his peers, he began to drink indulgently and would frequently be seen with a tot of whisky in his hand whether he was studying or socialising. Gradually drink became his master, draining his resources.

To the pawnshop

Eventually William had no money left to finance his craving. His mind turned to the nearest pawnshop. What could he pawn to buy himself more whisky? He glanced round his room. His eyes fell on the Bible his mother had given him. He blew off the dust. Little used, it should fetch a good price, and of course he would redeem it one day, he told himself. At least it would meet his present needs. Hardening his conscience the medical student took the Bible to the local pawnshop.

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This article is an edited extract from Surprised by God: lives turned upside down, by Faith Cook, recently published by Evangelical Press, ISBN 978 1 783 970 087 and is used with permission.

This article was first published in the September 2014 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, visit us online or subscribe to en for monthly updates.