I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. ~ John 15:11, NIV

Someone has said, “Smell and enjoy the rose in the vase, rather than looking at the dust on the table.”

It is frightening to realize that it was nearly thirty-seven years ago, after completing a nephrology fellowship in Dallas, Texas, that I, with my family, returned to LLU to join the teaching and practicing faculty at the School of Medicine. Little did I imagine that the next nearly four decades would bring me immeasurable fulfillment – many more roses!

Being born and brought up in New York state, I was “expected” to return east and not follow in the footsteps of so many medical graduates of LLUSM, who elect to remain in the land of sunshine and “milk and honey.” In retrospect, God had other plans for my life than the beckoning eastern shores. Thus, eight years post-graduation, I found myself caring for patients and interfacing with some of the most beautiful people in the world… the medical students of LLU!

Words cannot capture the joy and excitement I have experienced mentoring students (now literally in the hundreds) over the decades. A new, bright, fresh, and eager crop appears year after year, representing students from all walks of life. Some even have different religious persuasions than mine; but most are Christian, seeking not only to learn the typical “nuts and bolts” of becoming a physician, but also wanting to become a “to make a man whole” physician in society (a unique breed).

I have flashbacks of seeing sixty-to-eighty medical students, wall to wall (folding chairs, couches, on the floor), in our living room, worshiping on a Friday evening… voices accompanied by guitars in praise worship, personal sharing, the opening of the Word, and collectively praying. I have flashbacks of students I have encountered as part of the mentor-mentee program on campus. In this program, on a voluntary basis, a faculty member is paired up with a freshman medical student.

Other “outside the classroom” experiences have been many-such as traveling one-on-one with a medical student to a mission hospital in Trinidad and experiencing mission life together, or traveling to a war-torn area, or visiting an impoverished family in Afghanistan with a previous mentee. What memories!

Let me return to my initial, hopefully provocative, statement. In our personal lives, in churches, in businesses, in politics, in institutions, there is, if we are honest, some unattractive “dust on the table.” We humans, even would-be saints, can become fixated on the “dust on the table” and fail to see, appreciate, or smell and enjoy, the rose in the vase. From my vantage point as a faculty member of some thirty-seven years at LLUSM, I see not just one rose to enjoy and smell, but a large bouquet!

I invite you this morning to pray for LLUSM-its administration, faculty, alumni, and students. To the leadership of LLUSM, I say, “Be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7, NIV). To that I would add, “Lord, may I refuse to dwell on the negative and reveal the positive aspects of life.”

Bob Soderblom, LLUSM class of 1963, is associate professor in LLUSM department of medicine, division of nephrology. He was LLUSM Alumni Association president from 2001 to 2002 and was an LLUSM Alumni Association 1998 Honored Alumnus. In 2006, he was LLUSM Teacher of the Year.