This wall isn't the same for everyone. But, here is what our wall looked like to us? Several weeks ago we had two car accidents, one of which was a hit and run. Two weeks ago, due to a hard freeze our water pipes bursted, resulting in no water and costly repairs. And, just this past week the flu made its way through our home, putting several of us out of commission for several days. All of this of course while living in a home that is nearly as freezing cold inside as it is outside. Repairing the home, while dealing with the flu, and having to cook and care for the family while meeting the demands of normal day-to-day life and ministry can do enough to a person's psyche to make one go stir crazy. The wall.
I would be lying if I didn't say I wanted to be back home in Texas with my friends and family this past week. Oh, how I longed for just one night to be in a warm home with central heating, a place to kick my shoes off, and kick back to watch the NFL playoffs on TV while sipping on an ice cold beer and order Domino's Pizza for the family. I would be lying if I didn't ask myself once, "What am I doing here in Albania?" Nor, did I hesitate to hear a voice casting doubt into my mind, "You're really not needed here, Greg." The wall.
But, something amazing transpired the other night that seemed to propel me over this obtrusive wall and see the other side. On Wednesday afternoon at our weekly youth event, The Loft, I saw five teens (Erjon, Masario, Sabi, Andii, and Indrit) come to our home with huge smiles of joy on their faces. I also saw two youth leaders (Egli and Diti) who seemed to be having a blast kicking the soccer ball around in our courtyard. Later that same night I had coffee with five Albanian men (Sinan, Mandi, Bashkim, Soni, and Doni) at a local cafe and engaged in a fun game of dominoes with them. The evening was capped off with a hot tea and raki at an Albanian man's home (Mandi) who was eager for me to meet his family. This was the same man who I had hired to fix our broken water pipes. I was able to be a blessing to this man by providing a source of income for him to help provide for his own family while at the same time he fulfilled a need for us.
Do these people need me? No. But, they need Jesus. And, without us being here, I'm not convinced they would have the opportunity to see Him. Although I'm not the best example at being a Christian, it is my hope that through my life, both the good and the bad, the highs and the lows, the sad days, the happy days, the days I am sick, the days that I am healthy, the days that I am tired, and the days I am full of energy, that they will someday see Jesus. And, this makes all the difference in the world to me. Seeing the joy on these men's faces this week gave me the full assurance that I needed to know that this is indeed where I, and my family, are needed. And, this wall... yes, there is a wall and there may be more ahead, can be overcome by reminding myself that my joy is not found in external things, but only in Christ Jesus... the source of true joy.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4)