I have always been a loner. Matter of fact I have, at times, revelled in being a loner. I quite like it. I've been a watcher and a "noter of life." In short I participate, but more often than not only on the periphery. Because of my "loner-ness" I tend to be viewed as "standoffish." Sometimes I'm thought of being rude and even, believe it or not, thinking of myself as being better then others. All of this is not true. I just feel more comfortable looking in instead of looking out. This has served me well, though.
One of the toughest things for me to do when I was in college and working at a summer camp was to "share the peace" during our communion service on Thursday nights. I would often slip off to the side and watch as everyone else hugged and shook hands, I tried to make myself as unseen as possible. For the most part I think, my fellow camp counselors understood this. A couple times I ventured out and into the mix, but not very often.
My loner-like tendendies have been useful to me, though. I'm the guy that tends to notice someone else on the outside looking in. I can see it in their face, they want to participate, but they don't know how. I'll go over to them and say its alright go ahead and I've been known to take them by the hand and take them into the mix of whatever is going on-- doing the exact thing I hated have done to me. A few years back I had the opportunity to work on a servant trip to a town in Oklahoma. There were hundreds of kids and adults there. At night after working on houses all day we would gather in this big school gym and have a devotion of some kind. One night they had a particularly powerful devotion that left everyone a little bit wrung out. The finale was for everyone to do a basic "share the peace of the Lord" thing, so everyone moved in and started hugging and shaking hands and talking. Everyone that is, but me. I didn't feel it. Well, I did, but I didn't. I needed to watch it. To see it. To see all those people revel in the Lord. And I did. And then I saw a girl on top of the gym bleachers crying. No one was around her. She was all alone. Crying.
There is a story from Acts 8 about Phillip hearing the Holy Spirit tell him to go and talk to the Ethpoian eunuch. Philip sees the man sitting in a chariot reading Isiah 53 and he didn't understand what he was reading so Philip explained it to him. I saw this girl crying and after a minute of hesitation I started up the stairs. I came in from the left, for some reason I felt it would be better if I didn't come at her from straight on. I sat down next to her and put my hand on her shoulder. She looked at me with tears rolling down her cheeks. She'd been crying hard. I smiled and maybe even chuckled a little and said "Its alright." I asked her what was wrong. She told me about her brother who was in his early twenties and a raging alcoholic. He was sick with the disease. His body was being ravaged and she was scared for him. I remember her saying distinctly "He's throwing up blood." What do you say to that? Nothing, I decided. Let her talk it out. So she did, with a little prodding. She held my hand the whole time. Crushing it I might add. (My hand throbbed all next day). She calmed down a bit and I asked her simply if she'd like to pray.
I discovered quickly that she knew who I was. Most people did. I had written nickname that I had picked up along the way "Pnut" on the back of my shirt. No one knew my name, but they all knew I was "pnut." (I've discovered the its easier to talk to someone named Pnut as opposed to a Karl). Any way this girl said she did want to pray. So we went to a dark corner away from the rest of the group and we prayed. I asked her if she wanted "to dial or hang up?" She didn't get that, I translated: you wanna start, or finish? She started and as she prayed she cried and crushed my hands, again. After she was done praying and letting the hurt out, I hung up. I ended the prayer by asking for God's blessings on her and her brother adn asked that God guide and be with her. When it was done the tears had stopped and smile was blazed across her face. A thousand pound weight must of been lifted from her shoulders. She hugged me in a bearhug and thanked me.
A few days later I found a note in an envelope. She thanked me for being there and then said "Thank you for being my angel the other night." I was flabbergasted. I wasn't anyones angel, I was just a loner who happened to see someone in need.
That's how the Lord uses me. I'm a listener and a watcher. I listen to people and they tell me things that they don't usually tell other people, I don't know why-- its one of my peculiar gifts.