But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. ~ Matthew 23:11-12, NKJV

I had never really sensed a call to general surgery or to any of its subspecialties. Not surprisingly, of all the rotations required during the junior year of medical school, I was most apprehensive about the surgery rotation. I knew that it would be a difficult rotation for me; and when the time came, I found the mental and physical demands more challenging than anticipated.

Regretfully, I was also privy to a few interactions during which the attending surgeons’ behavior was less than courteous. It was during such interactions that I found myself being particularly reminded that Loma Linda University School of Medicine is God’s medical school unlike any other, and has been from its inception. I was also reminded of my own shortcomings and how, despite them, the love of our Lord and Savior remains.

After six weeks of general surgery, four weeks of subspecialty surgery, and two weeks of anesthesia, by the grace of God, I found myself awaiting the start of the last surgery of the rotation. The patient and the attending surgeon had already arrived in the operating room. I marked the time. The resident was running late. Realizing that each passing moment could be worsening what potentially was an already bad situation, I found myself growing increasingly uneasy for the resident. When he did arrive, I was fearful that he might be unduly chastised for his tardiness. And then a peculiar sight unfolded before me.

Neither a harsh rebuke nor an unkind word was uttered by this attending surgeon. Not only that, but the attending also helped gown and glove the resident! I was stunned. This scene ran so contrary to what I had thought would likely happen that it took several moments for me to process what I had just observed. Then, like a warm comforter on a dark chilly night, I felt the love of God envelope me, as I realized what a wonderful blessing it was for me to have my surgery rotation end like this.

My surgery rotation reassured me of God’s plan for me and for Loma Linda by allowing me to witness firsthand the love of God expressed through a willing servant. I was also reminded of the words of our Master regarding greatness, as found in Matthew 23:11-12.

Is the reader wondering about the identity of that Christian attending surgeon? It was none other than the world-renowned cardiothoracic surgeon, Leonard Bailey, LLUSM class of 1969.

Clifford Cabansag, LLUSM class of 2008, is a resident internal medicine at Kettering Medical Center in Kettering, Ohio.