About Jesus Steve Sweetman
My Journey Through The Ecclesiastical Maze
Friendships In The Midst Of Disaster
In 1991 and 1992 I found
myself in an extremely sad and depressing situation that was not of my
choosing. What got me
through those days was the presence of the Holy Spirit and the
friendship of my brothers in Christ.
Pretty well every day
during this year or so of sadness and sorrow I’d meet with my friend
Jim for encouragement and direction.
When in turmoil, you often need those who Jesus has placed you
with to help bring clarity of heart and mind.
If your experience with church is merely organizational and not
relational, you’ll miss the warm-hearted friendships which are
fundamental to the Body of Christ. Organized
church can be cold and clinical at times.
Sitting in front of a pastor’s desk in a counseling session
might be beneficial, but having a warm friendly shoulder to cry on goes
a long way as well.
community of Christ that Jesus has placed us in provides comfort,
direction, care, and more in
the best of times and in the worst of times. I’ve experienced such
care throughout my life but especially so in 1991 and 92.
The care and comfort
I’m speaking of is not merely humanistic in nature.
We can find a friendly shoulder and more at the corner drinking
establishment, but that won’t produce the same results as the shoulder
found on those we are joined to in the Body of Christ.
The element of the divine, the Holy Spirit should be part of our
friendships in the Body of Christ. I’d
like to relate two situations that demonstrate this.
It was the second or
third Sunday in March 1992 when I heard the bad news. I knew it was
coming at some point. I just
didn’t know exactly when, but that was no consolation. It
never is. Strangely
enough, the news came just after a Sunday morning church meeting. It
was devastating. My head was
in a daze, and my heart was emotionless as I sat speechless on the love
seat where no love could be found. Nothing
could have been said that would have changed anything so there wasn’t
any reason to say anything. It
was all over. My life seemed
to spin into suspended animation where I was caught in a vacuum of
nothingness while life just passed me by.
I was completely numb of any normal feeling at that moment. Any
emotion I might have felt just up and left.
I might as well have been a wooden statue sitting beside my CD
player, or a corpse void of its soul.
Little did I know that
Jesus was working behind the scene on my behalf, and this is where the
divine aspect to relationships comes in.
It was the evening of the day I received the bad news.
It was in a church service that my friend Jim didn’t normally
“accidentally” met an elderly lady I knew years earlier after the
service. I say
“accidentally”, but it was no accident.
It was the intervening hand of Jesus.
Jim didn’t really remember this lady as she asked him if he was
Steve Sweetman’s friend. Although
Jim couldn’t remember her, he could still remember that he was my
friend, so he told her that he was.
The next day, which was Monday, Jim
related this to me when we met for our daily time of encouragement.
The elderly lady told Jim
that just the day before she had opened an old box from her attic that
she hadn’t seen in years. That
would have been on Saturday. In
this box was a wedding invitation that I had given her in 1977.
The Lord specifically told her to take the invitation out of the
box, place it on her mantel, and “pray for Steve”.
This elderly lady is one of those people we’ve called a
“prayer warrior” over the years.
So she prayed for me, even though she didn’t exactly know why
she was praying, although she might have been able to guess.
In response to her prayers Jesus told her that He would look
after me, and make sure I always had a place to live and would always
have shoes on my feet. Jim
was amazed at what she said. He
told her why Jesus had her put the invitation on her mantel and pray.
The timing was a miracle. She
pulled the invitation out of the box the day before I got the bad news,
and related these things to Jim just hours after I received the news,
but the story doesn’t end here.
Two days later, on
Tuesday, I sat on a bench at our local mall.
This same elderly lady who sat on the bench behind me softly
spoke to me in a weakened voice. She
asked me, “are you Steve Sweetman”?
I told her I was. She
told me her name and I immediately remembered her from the 1970’s.
I had not seen her for fifteen years.
In a spirit of
graciousness and concern she told me that just three days earlier she
discovered the invitation I gave her in 1977 while looking in an old box
in her attic. She told me
that Jesus had her take the invitation out of the box and place it on
her mantel so she could remember me in prayer.
She then prophesied to me by saying that Jesus would always have
a place for me to live and that I’d always have shoes on my feet.
It was quite evident that Jesus wanted me to know that He’d
look after me despite what I was going through.
I began to cry while sitting on that bench in the mall.
I’m not sure if anyone saw my tears, but that didn’t really
matter. When you’re
touched by Jesus, who cares what anyone thinks.
This prophetic word came
from a dear sister in Christ who I had not seen in fifteen years. It was
exactly the appropriate word for me at that time.
This is divine intervention.
This is the community of Christ in action.
This is the way the Body of Christ should work. Thanks to Mrs.
Fisk whose heart was so right before the Lord that she could hear His
voice. And, thankfully I was
in that part of the Body of Christ that
believes such prophetic words can still be spoken today. I
feel sorry for those who restrict what Jesus wants to do in their lives.
And here’s another thought.
We shouldn’t relegate the gifts of the Spirit to meetings only.
As in this case, these gifts are for daily living, even in malls.
It was about a month
later while in a small gathering fifty miles from my home town when a
So when I talk about
church, I’m talking about being properly joined to a few other
believers in “divine friendships”.
I’m not talking organizationally or humanistically. We are
bones in His Body. One bone
is joined to another in what we call a joint.
The blood that flows from one bone to another is the Holy Spirit.
This is where the divine nature of our friendships come into
play. I’m not merely
talking about friendships. I’m
talking about “divine friendships” where the Holy Spirit is vital in
the relationship. This is
church. The clinicalization
found in many parts of the ecclesiastical maze just isn’t church.
Believe me, it really isn’t.