Mike, pilot Tammy Jo shults, Dean Shults Navy SEAL fundraiserPraying at SEAL fund raiser dinner

“Therefore…, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” Amos 4:12 AMP


“God…now directs everyone everywhere to change their hearts and lives…because God has set a day when he intends to judge the world justly by the man he has appointed.” Acts 17:30-31 CEB


Sometimes in the course of serving a good cause, God in his grace will drop an inspiring gift right in front of you. I hope that has happened to you as it did to me recently.


It began in the lobby of the Hyatt West Palm Beach where we waited for the shuttle taking us to the Mar a Lago Club. I had been invited to take part in a fundraiser to benefit the Navy SEAL Foundation and the Trident House Charities program of the National Navy UDT/SEAL Museum.


The lobby was crowded with all the players; a demonstration team made of active and retired SEAL Operators, dog handlers, parachute guys, along with Museum staff and special guests. As the chaplain, my task was to kick off the dinner program with prayer.


Looking around for familiar faces, I spotted the shaven head of a man I thought I recognized but whom I hadn’t seen in years. But no sooner had I said “hello” that I realized he wasn’t the guy. While fumbling through my apology, the gentleman held out his hand and introduced himself. “Dean Shults” he said smiling. He turned toward the lady beside him. “And my wife Tammy. You may have seen her on TV a year ago.”


Now I admit it takes a while for me to put two and two together. But after that introduction (and a quick Google search later) I found out who I had just met. Tammy is one of the Navy’s first female F-18 pilots and one very gutsy person. At the end of her service she became a pilot for Southwest Airlines. And on April 17, 2018 she averted a major air disaster by bringing her severely damaged Boeing 737 down safely. If you Google her name and add “Southwest Flight 1380” you will know just how amazing and courageous she is.


Soon we all boarded the fancy shuttle bus and 10 minutes later rolled through the club gate. The outdoor demonstration went flawlessly. Afterward the main ballroom filled up with over 700 dinner guests and $1.6 million was raised for the welfare and support of Navy SEAL families. After the dinner I got a picture (above) with Tammy and her husband. Overall it was a fabulous evening.


But the highlight for me was the 10:15 shuttle ride back to the hotel. Everyone else was still celebrating so it was just me, Dean and Tammy Jo. In the quiet of that bus ride I asked her about her faith.


Faith in God is not at all foreign to high-risk takers such as SEALS and combat pilots.


Consider the F-18 pilot approaching the heaving deck of an aircraft carrier at night in bad weather. With a titanium hook attached to the tail of the aircraft, the pilot is attempting to land by grabbing a steel cable suspended a few inches above the carrier deck (Navy pilots call this a controlled crash).


A shower of sparks erupts as the tail hook strikes and drags the deck. The pilot has an instant to know if the hook has found the cable. A miss means the plane will fall into the sea, so the pilot engages full acceleration at the last moment so the jet will have enough speed to stay in the air. Consider that all of this takes place in about 2 seconds across a deck space less than 500 feet long at 140 mph. In the dark.


Things like that aren’t done by people who have never wrestled with their mortality. Many such men and women who routinely face a high probability of death have found faith in God to be a very present help in time of trouble.


Tammy Jo Shults’ faith was in charge when at an altitude of 32,000 feet the left engine of her 737 exploded in flames and sent shrapnel into the fuselage, decompressing the cabin. Faith was the calm in her voice as she flew the diving, pitching, shuddering plane and reassured the flight attendants, directing them to tell the panicked passengers, “Tell them we are not going down. We’re going to (land in) Philly.”


Her faith was in charge when a reporter asked if she had felt ready to meet her Maker during the emergency. She answered, “I know who my Maker is.” And as we finished our conversation on the bus, faith in God radiated from her as she added, “I’m always ready to meet my Maker. I meet with Him every day.”


I hope we all do that. No matter who we are or what we do, let’s take care to meet with God every day. Because sooner or later, life will throw us into unexpected chaos. And if we meet with Him every day, we will be ready on that day. And we will also be prepared to meet when we, the mortal, come face to face with God our Maker on That Day.



Mike Shockley

7 thoughts on “MEETING OUR MAKER

  1. How awesome to have found you on Facebook. What a touching God inspiration you have written. I wish my walk with my life and the church were spent with only you and your loving family. My favorite Pastor 🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I so enjoyed your writing Pastor Mike. Got so excited when I saw you had a new blog and I read every word. What an awesome life you have lived and are still living. May God continue to use you as He is and I pray He will continue to bless and keep you and your loved ones in His hands. Love, Peg Smith

    Liked by 1 person

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