HOW SWEET THE SOUND…

Love, Faith and Wisdom will get you on base, but only God’s Grace can get you Home. (baseball analogy)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus  (Romans 3:23-24)

If you’ve ever been to one of my shows, then you know immediately following my last song I head straight to the merchandise booth where I hang out and visit with “my faithful following”.  I say “faithful following” because I honestly don’t feel right calling them fans; they are more like friends if anything.  After all, they are the ones supporting my career and helping me provide for my family.  These “meet and greets” are part of my routine work day but I do truly enjoy the face to face interaction. We country boys like to call it “shooting the bull” and it’s something I happen to be pretty darn good at.  A lot of times, I’ll be out there till 2 am, so you can imagine there is definitely never a dull moment.  I’ve broken up fights, been proposed to by a tipsy college chick and even had a 300 pound offensive lineman ask me to sign his chest, just to name a few!

On a more serious note, I’ve had some real tear jerkers, as well.  I recently visited with the widow of a soldier killed in Iraq.  I felt a lump in my throat, as she showed me a picture of her husband and myself from a festival that I’d played a week before his last and final deployment.  She said I was his favorite country artist.  At his funeral, they played Barbed Wire Halo.  I am honored beyond words.

I hear so many heartbreaking stories.  It’s a constant reminder of just how painful and ruthless this cruel world can be at times.  A few weeks ago at the merchandise booth, I had a sweet girl ask me to autograph the shirt and CD that she had just bought.  While doing so, she told me that she had really enjoyed my new blog.  Then, with tears welling up, she went on to tell me that she had been struggling with a lot of things lately.  She had made some poor decisions and from doing so had recently found out she was pregnant.  She was really beating herself up good.  She was embarrassed, full of guilt, scared to tell her family, uncertain of her future and certain she had messed her life up beyond repair.  She said, with doubt in her voice, “I just hope that God can forgive me.”  I gave her a big hug and tried my best to encourage and enlighten her.  I shared with her a very similar personal situation that I had experienced within my family ten years ago.  I assured her, though she may have some hard times ahead, not only did God forgive her but she would be blessed with “a little blessing in disguise” in less than nine months from now.  We continued to visit while a long line behind her waited politely and patiently.  So don’t tell me all honky tonk crowds are rowdy and rude! HA HA!  I wish I would have had more time to visit with her, in perhaps some place less smokey, with less hip hop music blaring over the top of our voices.  So I decided to shelf the blog that I had completed and do my best to write something that would cater directly to her and her current feelings.

One thing I do: forgetting what is behind me and straining toward what is ahead.  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 3:12-14)

Ok, now I need a show of hands.  If you have ever screwed up in any form or fashion please raise your hand.  If we could all see each other, we would see every honest individual with a hand raised.  I would actually be the guy holding up both of his hands!  When we make decisions that make a mess of our life, it’s common to get knocked down and discouraged.  Feeling “not good enough” is not uncommon!   I’ve been there and done that only a few hundred thousand times.  The good news is that I have a remedy for your bad news!  When I find myself down in the dumps, unable to pull myself out; I start with a simple prayer.  I ask for help, forgiveness, guidance, “Lord, I’m not strong enough to climb out of this hole on my own!  Can you please throw me a rope?”  I also lean heavily on my Bible.  It’s amazing how the same old story that I’ve read a hundred times can almost miraculously change form and speak to me differently than it has ever done before.  I’m going to share my thoughts on the story of Peter.  Peter’s rejections and redemptions have helped me get back up on my feet multiple times.  Now maybe the new expectant mother won’t relate to Peter like I do, but I want to encourage her to find the story that does.  I would suggest the story of “the woman at the well” or even better, the story of “Mary Magdalene”.  These two girls had been going down the wrong road for a long, long time but they hit a road block when they met Jesus.  He turned their lives around, wiped away their tears and the million miles of misery behind them.  He gave them a new hope, a fresh new start, a new light on their horizon.  As you are fixing to find out, he did the same thing for Peter too.  Not just once or twice but time and time and time again.

Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him.  “You also were with Jesus,” she said.  Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.  Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.”  And Peter went outside and wept bitterly.  (Matthew 26: 69, 74 and Luke 22:61-62)

The more I read about Peter the more I can relate to Peter. When he’s good, he’s great and when he’s bad, he’s real BAD.  Kind of reminds me of me!  There’s also a lot of things about ol’ Pete that remind me very much of my Paw Paw Pennington.  My Paw Paw was rough around the edges to say the least.  His mom and dad died when he was only 18 months old.  So the odds were stacked against him from the “get-go” (country slang for “beginning”).  He would run away, hobo on a train from Birmingham to Chicago and join the Navy when he was sixteen.  Adventure he would seek and adventure he would find.  His Naval travels would take him from New York, to Pearl Harbor, missing the December 7th attack by two weeks, seeing head hunters off the shore of New Guinea and the horrors of war as the dead floated down the Yangtze River in China. He survived countless kamikaze attacks, endless enemy torpedoes and his battleship would be one of the first to dock in Tokyo harbor upon Japan’s surrender to the U.S.  After the war, he would return to reality, trying to find work to feed a growing family. His occupations led him from the engine room of a battleship, to coal mining, to working on his own fixing air conditioners, refrigerators and beer boxes  –  hard times fueled by hard liquor.  It would take years of unconditional love and patience from my Grandmother and the traumatic event of losing his oldest daughter at age 15, to turn his life around.  But the man, would eventually trade the bar stool and bottle for a Church pew and a Bible.  He would lead singing in front of the Church!  He would even preach when given the chance and bring his point home by pounding his fist on the podium.  I would have loved to have seen him in action.  His transformation was not overnight nor was it an easy one.

My Paw Paw died when I was young so his memory is faint.  My Grandmother once told me, “I finally got him just like I always wanted him and then I lost him”.  Most everything I know about Paw Paw is from stories passed down from my Mom and Grandmother.  I do have a few cloudy images in my head, of me sitting on his knee and him promising to take me fishing someday.  Oh how I wish he could have lived long enough to teach me how to bait a hook, cast a line, and clean a fish.  There’s even been a few times while fishing when I felt as if he was looking down on me.  I bet he gets a real laugh out of watching me chase my little boys around the stock tank trying my best to keep them from getting stuck in the mud or even worse, stuck with a fishing hook.  Like Peter, my Paw Paw had his fair share of ups and downs but he was a good man not to mention a mighty fine fisherman.

Like my Paw Paw, my wild imagination has Peter as this red headed, hot head with a hair trigger temper.  Perhaps Peter had an anchor tattoo on one arm and a bomber girl tattooed on the other (you know, like the girls that were painted on the side of the WWII airplanes).  Perhaps he had a broken nose and a scar on his face from a chair throwing, bottle breaking bar room brawl.  I bet at his worst, he could make a sailor blush.   No one else would dare take a chance on such a high temper, high risk case like Peter!  No one, except for Jesus that is.  Peter’s destiny and occupation would instantly change the second Jesus stepped foot on to his boat.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.  (Mark 1:17-18)

Folks refer to him as Saint Peter but let’s not forget that Peter is also well known for his “not so saintly” mishaps.  This isn’t some fairytale story about a man who’s only weakness is a glowing green stone called Kryptonite.  This is a real guy with real problems.  In the very end, you could say that Peter earned his sainthood the hard way.  Peter was the one who was “ye of little faith” as he attempted to walk on water out to Jesus. Then again, in his defense, he was the only one who had the guts to get out of the boat in the first place.  Peter was also bold in his confessions about who Jesus was.  While others were claiming Jesus to be just a great prophet from the past, Peter was the one to step up and say “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”   Peter had followed Jesus to the top of the mountain, witnessed miracles like no man had ever seen. Peter was even brave enough to draw his sword against a detachment of soldiers in defense of Jesus.  How could a man be so brave one second then turn right around and wimp out on his best friend three times?  Like I said earlier, when he’s good, he’s great and when he’s not, he’s not.  What a combination of both courage and cowardice.  We should all find a little encouragement in Peter’s discouragements.  After all, he is human just like us.  Proof that there is hope for even guys like me!  It is so comforting that Jesus knows our bad decisions are of the head and not of the heart.

I do often wonder, where did Peter go after he looked Jesus in the eyes and denied him for the third and final time?  Where did he hide while Jesus carried that cross with the weight of eternity on his back?  He must have felt worthless, unworthy, perhaps even suicidal knowing that he had betrayed his friend and Savior.  Peter was well practiced, prepared and rehearsed, yet when it was game time; he totally choked.  He shanked the shot, missed the game winning field goal, threw up a brick at the buzzer, he pulled a Bill Buckner letting a routine ground ball go through his legs.  In the eyes of the world, Peter was a failure, a fluke and a hypocrite.  Game over Peter, you big fat loser!   Everyone had given up on Peter; Peter had given up on Peter; yet Jesus returns and specifically calls out for Peter.  Jesus not only welcomes Peter back with open arms, but he puts the man in charge.  I love that part!  For that 300 pound offensive lineman’s sake, let’s talk football for a second. Let’s pretend that Peter is the young rookie quarterback and Jesus is the Coach.  Peter, after throwing his third interception, mopes off the field to the sideline.  He takes off his helmet, sits on the bench and puts his head between his knees.  The Coach walks up, yanks him off the bench and gives him a good old fashioned butt chewing!  He says, “get back in there and play the game the way I taught you to play the game”.  It must have been the pep talk of all pep talks!  Needless to say the young quarterback would go on to do some miraculous things!

Peter would eventually “get back in the game,” returning after his three rash denials of Jesus with some encouragement from his brother, Andrew.  He would regain his confidence and the fires of the kingdom of God would again burn red hot within his soul.  He would let his light shine brightly throughout the darkness and much of the world would come to know Jesus through him.  He would preach and never disown his Savior again.  He would be beaten, persecuted, thrown in jail time and time again.  In the end, he would even die for the cause.  What a bittersweet redemption.  Way to go Peter!  Job well done!  You could’ve given up.  Taken the easy way out and pulled a Judas but you didn’t.  You hung in there and you came back around.  Persistence pays off!  More importantly, you went down swinging!  What an example for all of us.  Thanks Pete!

I tell you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19)

Like I’ve said many times before, if you think I’ve got it all together, just ask my sweet wife!  I’d be lying to you if I said I’ve never punched a hole in the wall, made a promise I didn’t keep, said hurtful and hateful things, or even turned my back on Jesus multiple times.  I am not perfect but I am a CHRISTIAN!  Being an “imperfect Christian” is not an oxymoron.  I believe the worst thing I can do is walk around acting flawless!  (A) I think it comes off snooty or high and mighty.  (B) Giving off a perfect perception only sets me up for certain failure because perfection is impossible.  There’s a huge difference between being perfect and striving for perfection.  I strive and stumble towards perfection daily, and every cotton picking day I come up short, way short.  I’m trying to live like Jesus…emphasis on TRYING!

We’ve all heard the saying, “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”   I believe this, if you actually learn from your mistakes.  When I was three I touched the hot stove after Mom had warned me twice.  I could have saved myself a lot of pain if I would have just listened to Mom in the first place.  Being the hard head that I am, I had to learn my lesson the hard way.  So many times we do the same thing with God.  He gives us warning signs, gut feelings, and guidance, yet time after time, we “put our little hands back up on the hot stove” so to speak.  Did my mom love me any less? Absolutely not!  If anything, she dried my tears, kissed my little throbbing hand and showed me even more affection.  After all, that’s what LOVE is!  That’s what JESUS does!  That’s why he died on the CROSS.

Use your hard learned experiences to help those around you: like the ex-drug addict who now counsels struggling addicts towards a road to recovery and speaks to school kids about the dangers of drugs or the ex-convict who now has a prison ministry helping inmates turn their lives around for the better.  There’s also the woman at Church who had a baby at 16 and now helps nurture young pregnant teenage girls into mature and responsible moms.  All these people can relate to the tough times and help because they have been there and know what it is like.  This world is in desperate need of more “real” people like this.  God uses our strengths to glorify HIM as well as our weaknesses too…if not more!

Just the other day Kimberly was cooking and both my boys had pulled chairs up to the counter, begging like little dogs for any tiny scraps they could get from their momma.  I told Jake and Jack to watch out for the hot stove.  Little by little, in AW fashion, they inched a little closer.  I reminded them again and then explained how I’d burned my hand really bad when I was little.  I went into further detail explaining the excruciating pain, the suffering, blistering and bleeding.  Then I topped it off with a tall tale about a hospital visit and a BIG SHOT!  Ok I may have exaggerated the story a bit but I definitely got my point across.  Unlike their Daddy, they chose to not touch the hot stove.  I guess not only did they get their Momma’s good looks but they inherited her intelligence as well.  Thank God for that!

I hope and pray this blog will, in some way, help out that young expectant mother and anyone else who is feeling similar.  If she is reading this, I would say, “Let it go girl!  You are forgiven so forgive yourself.  You are beautiful, wonderful with your whole life in front of you.  Nothing you have done is so bad that it outweighs the GRACE, MERCY and FORGIVENESS that JESUS gave us when He carried our burdens upon that CROSS.  It’s time to get over it and get excited.  You’re going to be a MOM!  Maybe this isn’t the fairy tale that you had dreamed about but that’s okay!  I promise you, the moment you look into the eyes of your “little blessing in disguise” you will see a glimpse of the magnitude of GOD’s never ending unconditional LOVE.

AMAZING GRACE, HOW SWEET THE SOUND…

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to my sweetheart KIMBERLY!  Babe, you are beautiful and beyond amazing.  Jake, Jack, Jolee Kate, Baby J and myself are lucky to have you as our own!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to my MOMMA!  I knew that cancer couldn’t withstand your sweetness and strength.  It’s been a tough year but one I am thankful for as well.  Love and prayers prevail!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all MOMMAS of all ages.  To the Great-Grandmas, the young expectant moms and all moms in-between…You Moms make the world go around!

GOD BLESS, AW


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Published in: on May 8, 2011 at 8:00 pm  Comments (27)  

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27 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. this is a awesomuntile post…. I had never herd of Aaron Watson until they came to arizona and played…..now i’m a fan forever

  2. Thank you so much Aaron! You are an amazing man, I am proud ot be one of your “Faithful Followers” and also a sister in Christ. I know you have given me plenty of time after shows, talking about the adoption of my sweet little boy. I know you have stood in prayer with me as we have attempted to adopt again, and had each and every one of those adoptions fail (adoption speak for “not working out”). I also remember the care & time you spent when I brought a little girl along with me who was battling cancer. Beyond what makes you an amazing artist, is the amazing man you are. I love how you focus on God, your family, and those who adore you.

  3. I just wanted to share with you what your song Barbed Wire Halo means to me.

    On May 2, 2010, I lost one of my best friends, my “brother in our hearts”. The day of his funeral, I was driving home, distraught and thinking why him, why did God have to take him so soon. I turned on the radio to hopefully take my mind off things for just a little while. First song that played was Barbed Wire Halo, which I had never heard before. Before long I was pulled over on the side of the road, crying my eyes out, and thinking, Yep….Bob is up there looking down on me and saying…..Look at my “Shiney New Wings, and Barbed Wire Halo”.

    Still a year and 6 days after the fact I listen everyday to this song, and think about my “brother”.

    Thank you so much for the song and the inspiration it brings me everytime I hear it.

    Will be at Crosswire in Paris Texas this coming Friday night to hear you for the first time, and I know in my heart that when you sing Barbed Wire Halo, it will be Bob talking to me!

    RIP Bob Reed.

  4. OH, Aaron, you never fail to amaze me and my family! I am so grateful that I found your music so many years ago and even more so, that it lead us to being able to chat with you on the road from time to time and getting to know who you are. You are really an inspiration and it’s a special thing that you do to reach out and encourage your “faithful followers.” It is so evident that you know your purpose and see the bigger picture. Thank you for sitting down with us this past New Year’s Eve. My children may not be old enough to remember all the details of that day but they remember meeting you and their daddy and I will be able to explain to them one day what a special time it was. We’ll see you later this week!!

  5. I really enjoyed reading this blog. I have never been to your concerts but I am familar with them from my wife Rene and my father-in-law Wendell. I hear your songs often and think they are great and down to earth. Just wanted to say thanks for the blog and I look forward to seeing you the next time you are around Corsicanna

  6. Aaron thank you so much for sharing this today!! I too need a reminder that its ok being an “Imperfect Christian” and to keep my faith strong.

  7. As a mom that found myself wondering how to tell my family and friends that I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar and that I’d be having a baby girl in a few months, I completely relate to this girl and the stress and anxiety she’s feeling. I’d outgrown my youth group at church by that point and had traded in my old “church” friends for a new group of honky-tonkin’ friends when my old youth minister heard about my situation. He sat me down and shared a similar devotional with me and changed my life forever. It wasn’t easy to face my fears…and my parents…and the next 5 years as a single mom were definately hard. Now another 2 kids later and being happily married…I hope this girl sees that AW is right. You are already forgiven by God by the most unselfish gift ever. It’s time to pull yourself up and forgive yourself. AMEN!
    Thanks,AW for always putting on great family shows! We love bringing our kids out to hear you and take pride that our 8 year old can sing every one of your songs!

    t

  8. Thank you for taking the time to share these words – not just to the girl who came to you seeking solace, but for all of us who can surely benefit from this reminder. I’ve told you this before at concerts, but I’m going to say it again: I *love* how when you’re talking with your fans (“faithful followers”), you are truly THERE, with them, in that moment. You are not looking at the long line or glancing at your watch or your phone … you’re not rushing them … and goodness, look what a difference that makes. People pour their hearts out to you because they can tell that you care and they get that sense of grace from you. I think this is why your fan base is so loyal – because, on top of all the musical talent, you are a genuinely nice person who truly listens. You make each person feel special when they’re getting your autograph or getting a picture taken, and you therefore brighten their day … and you never know the impact you have. Just look at that situation: Here you have a girl who needs to be told of the Good News of forgiveness, who is scared to talk to her own family & who is dealing with overwhelming feelings … but who feels comfortable opening up to you and seeking your advice. That is a testament to the kind of person you are. If you had signed that deal in Nashville, I bet you would have agents & managers hurrying you along and telling you you couldn’t afford to “waste” time doing more than just a quick, 15-minute meet & greet with 10 lucky fans. You are awesome, and if there were more people like you out there, this world would be a better place. 🙂 Thank you!!

  9. wow! this one totally hit home for me… def shed a few tears :/ thank you for your amazing insight and fabulous words of encouragement! i look forward to your next one.

  10. Watson, you done real good.

  11. AW-
    I have been a fan for many years, and seen many shows.
    We had to move out of state for my husbands job, and at that point we both quit hanging in the bars because it only brought us to a place that wasn’t pretty at the end of the night (not judging others, it just was bad for my husband and I)

    I’m still a big fan, but after reading this blog, I am officially a fan for life.

    Thank you for sharing the light with others!!

  12. I just recently went to one of your concerts at Duck Jam and heard u play Barbed Wire Halo and had never heard it until that day. But my mom had just told me Mother’s Day weekend that she might have cancer. She is having the biopsy today so we won’t know anything for a couple of weeks. She has been sick the past couple of months and had a 103 degree temp everyday since then. We are praying for the best but every time I hear Barbed Wire Halo I cry my little heart out. I know we all have to prepare for losing the ones we love but I really don’t think that is possible. How does someone prepare for something like that. Thank you for the kind hearted words you give and please send prayers out for my mom Frances. See you next time.

  13. Aaron, I love your music! and I love so much that you are a family man and a Christian man of God. My husband, son and I are fans for life. We got to meet you in Albert TX and even more now I cherish the words you type/sing and speak.
    God Bless.
    Jessica

  14. Aaron if I could only express what this has done for me. Yesterday was so hard for me, I am a mother of four wonderful children whom give me all the love I need, but I recently lost my mother to cancer after a hard 6 month battle my sisters and I stayed night and day with her, I never have felt so much pain and hurt in my life. My mother raised 8 of us most of us by herself so was a strong strong woman and to watch her go through that hurt me to my core. So now here i am struggling to find something for me to do and constantly just wanting to call her and say please mom tell me what I do now…. your story of Peter helped me in so many ways, Thank you so much,

    God Bless you

    • hhh

      • well actually baby DeLaney said LOL

  15. Dear Aaron,
    I know now why I have come to love you and your music so much. Not only do you sing from the heart, but you share so much insight.
    I know my Daddy is looking down at me right now with his ‘Barbed Wire Halo’. Twenty years gone, from a heart attack, but never forgotten! I was just 17 then. Now at 37, I am a both a Mom and a Dad. I’ve raised my son (now 16) all on my own. With help from my loving family, but none from his absent father. We struggled much, but he is THE GREATEST BLESSING that I ever had!!!
    I thought of the young, pregnant girl you talked about and wish I could reach her. A Mother’s love is the greatest thing ever!!! My Mom is my best friend, and my back bone at times. And being a Mom has given me so much strength. I have Multiple Sclerosis and am in pain on a daily basis. My first symptoms surfaces a few months after giving birth to my son. And until 2 years ago, I was able to work, and be an almost ‘normal’ Mom. But there have been some times when I felt that I could not go on. And when I did, I look at my son’s face, and draw the strength I needed to continue.
    Never take any moment for granted!

    Luv from this Texas Girl,
    Melissa

  16. Have you ever considered that Jesus was telling Peter to deny him so that Peter would be spared and left on earth to be a leader?

  17. What a wonderful and inspirational post Aaron! If only every man were like you! Thank you so much for helping me to see that even though I haven’t been the most faithful person in my church going God still loves me anyways! Can’t wait to see you on Thursday at Rockin’ Rodeo! I’m always grateful that you stay up late to talk to every single one of your fans!

    -Christine

  18. Well said AW. We all fall short of the glory. Will look forward to more of these. God bless, james from kingsville

  19. Thank you for a great post.

  20. I want to try to say this as simply as possible. Heard of you for the first time today on pandora. I had to find out more about you, not 100% sure why even though I have an idea. After I read this I dug my Bible out of my closet for the first time in about five years. So Aaron, I just want to say thank you. You have no idea how much you have done for me. Your music is great, but your wisdom seems greater. Thank you again.

  21. Just wanted to take some time to let you know how much your words spoke to me tonight. God is working through you in a beautiful way. I have listened and loved your music for years…danced to it at my wedding and now I can’t wait for the words in your blog. You should absolutely without a doubt write a book. I have a good feeling something great is in store if you stay true and diligent to where He leads you. God bless and see you at Billy Bob’s in July!!! Keep up the great work.

  22. I’m glad I took the time to read this. I appreciate knowing there are others who share my beliefs and people in positions such as yours who believe in God and who not only live like it but choose to sing about it and include it in your shows. Awesome…God Bless

  23. I agree 100%

  24. wow your words are truly a gift from god!!! i have always listened to your music & love it. now i read tour posts and i am beyond words. i too have had tragedy in my life. in july of 2008 i lost a son who was 14 weeks early and had lung problems. it was the best and worst 10 hours of my life to have my sweet hunter ryan with me knowing we were loosing him all the while.at his funeral we played barbed wire halo & sonshine. i listen to these two songs as much as possiable and they give me strength when i need it. thank you aaron for all you do and keep up the good work.

  25. Aaron, I have listened to your music here and there and always thought…..”there is something different” about this guy. I mentioned it to my pastor this morning at breakfast. Tonight I found your blog and reallized that God is using you to spread “the truth”….there is something different. I am a father of 5 kids and you are an inspiration to me. Keep on living the truth and sharing it with others.


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