Laity Sunday Message

Some Spiritual Flashbacks

Good morning church family.

I'm still here! For those who are in the dark about that statement, 10 months ago my doctor gave me a few months to live. I didn't take his advice!

I would like to share some spiritual flash backs of my life.

I was raised Catholic.

Attended Catholic school for 8 years.

Our mom made sure my brother and I attended mass every Sunday. What about dad? Well he would join us twice a year – Christmas and Easter, and sometimes that was under protest! Needless to say, he was not the spiritual leader of our house, but he was a good provider. They were married for 29 years, and then our Mom passed away.

When I was 8 we moved to North Long Beach. Behind our backyard we had a huge drainage ditch with large boulders lining the sides and top, just inviting a little 8 year boy to climb on. At one point I slipped and was on my way down. I knew this was going to hurt bad! Just then I felt a hand grab my arm, pull me back, and save me from the fall.

When I was 13, I received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

I think Confirmation is the Catholic version of getting saved. The only problem was when the nun was teaching it, she would say "OK, to this question say yes, to this one say no..." and on and on. It was all in my head, not my heart. Something was missing.

When I turned 16, I got my drivers license. I would drive from Garden Grove to Westminister a few times a week to attend daily mass. Thanks to my mom, I loved going to mass. Being able to drive was kind of fun too!

One thing I remember sister Mary telling us. "If you go to mass and communion 9 first Fridays in a row, you will go straight to heaven." That sounded good to me so I fulfilled that little challenge. I still felt something was missing.

When I was 21, I joined the Air Force. At that time, you could sign up for a certain field. I chose Fire Prevention. I thought having that experience would help me get a job when I got out. I ended being a jammer driver. A jammer is a very low forklift used to load bombs on aircraft! I'm sure I'll find an opening for that in the want ads!

One morning when we were loading bombs on F4 fighter jets, I had an overpowering feeling to get out of there. I was the last person working on the jet. My job was to torque down the flair pod that was in the center of the jet. Before I was finished, I got this panic feeling that something was going to happen. I stopped what I was doing, bent down, looked around and saw no one around me. When we were working on the jet, no one else was supposed to be around. Not seeing any danger, I went back to work. Seconds later I felt this crushing blow to my right shoulder. Someone had turned the mule on. A mule is an external hydraulic power source for the jet. The first thing that happened was a breather door opened, pinning me between the door and the flair pod. The door opens under 3000 lbs of hydraulic pressure. There is a 2 inch clearance between the door and the pod. I knew my crew was preparing another F4, so I started yelling for help. It seemed a lifetime that I was pinned there. A pilot 2 rows over heard me. He told his crew chief to check it out. When someone finally turned off the mule, the door released me. I fell to the ground in intense pain. I was taken to a makeshift hospital on base. The doctor examined me and explained that if I had been 1 inch to the left, the door would have crushed my ribs. If 1 inch to the right, it would have crushed my shoulder. Thank you Lord that I was at just the right spot to do the least amount of damage.

If I ever get that feeling again, I'm not going to stay there and work. I'm moving on!

At 22 I married the love of my life, Sue. The day that we were married, I was standing at the altar waiting for my new bride to come down the aisle. When the back doors opened, and I saw my beautiful bride standing there, my tears started flowing. When the organ started playing and she started walking down the aisle, I noticed a lot of people were not standing up. They had their eyes glued on me wondering if this kid was going to fall apart! I had to motion to them to stand up. Everything worked out just fine. We have been married for 45 years, have 3 wonderful children, and 2 sweetie pie granddaughters. After our wedding, then I was off to Ubon, Thailand, for a year serving overseas.

While I was in Thailand, I became an altar boy. At that time, the mass was still in Latin. I don't speak Latin! I had to learn all these Latin prayers. I thought maybe getting closer to the altar was the answer. Wrong – Something was still missing.

When I was 26, I had been driving a Catering truck for a couple years, and was transferring the truck over to a new person.

It just so happened that this new couple were Christians. They had us pray with them asking Jesus to forgive our sins, come into our hearts, take control of our lives, and be our personal savior.

Romans 10:9 – If you confess with mouth Jesus is Lord

And believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead - You will be saved.

I didn't experience any fireworks; I just took it by faith.

When my brother got saved he experienced fireworks!

He was at a low, low point in his life. He was thinking about suicide. My wife and I gave him a copy of The Late, Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey. He read the whole book that night. In the morning he was praying to the Lord telling him that he could believe everything that the book was talking about, but he did not know what to do about all the things he had stolen. Just then his doorbell rang. He opened the door and he saw a deaf and dumb man who gave my brother a card which read "It is OK to give to the poor." That shook him up so much that he shut the door, and went back inside. After a few seconds he thought "I need to give him something." He went back to the front door, opened it and saw no one. He lived at the end of a cul-de-sac. None of his neighbors saw this person. I believe he was visited by an angel.

The biggest miracle was my dad. A few months before he died, my brother and I pleaded with him to come with us to a healing service at Melodyland. Near the end of the service, there was our dad with both hands raised to the Lord, saying a prayer with the pastor.

Is it possible that someone could attend a church all their life and never hear a salvation message? Don't let that be a stumbling block for you if it is.

When I get to heaven, I want each and every one of you to invite me over to see your new mansion. What a glorious time that will be!

Richard Shea
October 2011

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