Have you ever had an experience that makes a pop-culture song start playing in your mind. For instance, a few days ago I was thinking back to saying good-bye to the Norwegian class from my senior year of high school. I remember vividly, standing on the front steps of Hillcrest Academy, my friends in tears as they were saying good-bye to what would continue to be life-long friendships. My eyes were very heavy from a weekend of laughter and tears and I looked out over the front lawn of Hillcrest to notice the sidewalk that forms a "V" as it departs from the castle building. The words, "here is where the road divides, here is where we realize, the sculpting of our Father's great design" from Micheal W. Smith's song Pray for Me.
Yesterday a Norwegian student stopped by my office and told me I needed to read his blog. Students have found it useful to write blogs and post videos online as an on-going journal of their time in America. The student's blog was written in Norsk, but through the powers of Google I was able to translate his cryptic message. His words cut like a knife as he unwrapped the reality of his time at Hillcrest drawing to a close. The student expressed the change in emotion he has had over the past few months. Changes from being excited to return to Norway and see his parents, interact with his church, and have Norsk food; to sorrow in leaving his brotherhood in the dormitory and the constant Biblical teaching he has received at Hillcrest. "So Long Sweet Summer" were the words, from a late-nineties pop-band, that bemoaned the ending of summer. This song came to mind for my Norsk friend who is bemoaning the change of emotion that he has experienced over the past few weeks. Summer doesn't seem so sweet to him anymore.
I think Paul felt some of these same emotions. I think this because of the words, "For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain". Paul continues this thought throughout Philippians 1 by writing of his torn spirit. His struggle was between living on earth and serving the God he loves, and desiring to be in complete unity in Christ in heaven. I think that my friend from Norway is experiencing the same emotions. The challenge for him, as I understand it, is processing if it is better to stay at Hillcrest and receive training or to be an active part of God's kingdom by interacting with the world. I know this student had chances to interact with God's kingdom while in America, but it may have been easier in a foreign country.
May God bless our students. Their time at Hillcrest is about so much more than receiving a leather folder with "Hillcrest Lutheran Academy" written in calligraphy. They are truly being sent out of this place to impact the world. This transition won't be easy, but I believe they have received the resources to expand God's kingdom as they rely upon Him.