Monday, May 25, 2009


There’s a knot in my shoe lace – one of my favorite, most comfortable shoes. It’s been there for a few days and I’ve just ignored it - not a big deal, just a little irritating every time I lace up. I thought about getting it out, but the last few days, it’s seemed that I’m always in a bit of a rush to get out the door and I’ve just let it go.

It gets tighter every time I ignore it. The longer it stays there, the more difficult it’s going to be to get out.

Maybe later.

It’s not like the tangles I used to get when I first learned how to fish with that open-face bait casting reel I was so proud of.

I was in the eighth grade, I think, when a family friend started taking me fishing. Our families took vacations together from the time I remember starting to take vacations. His sister was my age – my first crush and my first kiss. I still remember her birthday and every year when it rolls around, I think about their family and what a great friendship we all shared.

On those first fishing trips, a few miles drive from my hometown, I felt like the luckiest kid in the world. We’d load up the car, hook up the boat to the trailer hitch and take off.

We ate horrible food on the lake before anyone really thought too much about what was actually in Deviled Ham or Vienna Sausages. Didn’t seem to do a great deal of harm. But this was back before the politically correct ( and what now seems to be the more sporting action ) behavior of throwing your catch back in the water. We’d catch our limit, take them to the shore of the little lake house our families owned together and fry up the best tasting meal I’d ever eaten.

I started fishing with a plastic icon of the fishing tackle world known as a Zebco 202. If you were really getting serious, you might step up to the metal version – the Zebco 303. I suppose if you went on up the chain of precious metals, you might eventually get to the 505. Don’t know what that would be made of or if there actually was such a thing.

But I digress.

One of my first precious possessions was the sparkling, deep red bait casting reel made by Abu Garcia – the Ambassador 5000. It came in a saddle brown leather case with its own tools and everything I’d need to keep it spiffy. Learning to throw accurately was a challenge and didn’t come to me quickly. But with time, I was able to navigate the branches and obstacles and get into those pocktes holding the big fish.

But man, those backlashes. I’m not so much into the scientific explanations of why a backlash would happen – basically, the spool would spin faster than the bait would fly through the air – but it was a mess. I’d sit down and slowly and as patiently as I could – for me, at least – pick out the knots. There. Lesson learned for now. Inevitably, it would happen again followed by more picking and further demands on my patience. Again and again. While I would sit there working my way to the source of the problem, I probably, without realizing it, thought about how I’d gotten into this mess. Probably made some minor, mental corrections hoping it wouldn’t happen again.

Once, when I’d graduated to using two different rods, I set down the one resembling a birds nest, and picked up the fresh one. Funny thing, when I picked up the fouled rod and reel, uh, it was still a birds nest. It didn’t go away by itself. Interesting.

Knots are stubborn. If you ignore them, at best, they’ll stay like you left them, and at worst, they’ll just get tighter. When you finally do get around to them, they’ll demand more of your time and attention.

Some of those knots in your gut are getting tighter every day. You tell yourself that you’ll deal with them eventually. Will you? When? Sure, God could miraculously remove them and free you, but it doesn’t always happen that way. Frankly, I don’t see it happen that way very often. God gives us wisdom, guidance and strength, insight and reason to work our way through our knots. Why? Because the experience and the lessons learned will be a big help down the road… maybe helping you or somebody else whose life is in the ditch.

Pay attention to the knots. Before they get so tight you have to get out the proverbial scissors, spend a little time picking through the problems. You might not get them untangled in one sitting, or two or three. Take a deep breath, pray a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s faithfulness and His patience with all our stuff. He is watching. He is helping.

You are loved.

Wayne Watson

Friday, May 22, 2009

For Grads and Parents

Every year, as the month of May comes to an end, I think back on school days. Those were good times and I remember the simple innocence of elementary school, moving up into junior high and then the discoveries of high school and the intensity of teenage years.

The long time that’s past since serves as a reminder of the realities of life for all grown- ups and, frankly, sometimes, it stinks. There’s no summer break when you’re a grown-up. Work, whatever that might mean to you, treks on with no real acknowledgement of the change of season. The schedule, for the most part, remains the same. Except for moms that are left to figure out what to do with those school kids that suddenly find themselves at home all day, quickly bored and looking for entertainment.

When I was living at home with my parents and going through the first 12 years of my education, we lived on School Street. You guessed right – across the street, not more than a hundred yards or so from my front door, was the high school. At least it gave credibility to my stories for my grandchildren and for generations to come, “Yep, I used to walk to school! Up Hill both ways!”

Can you remember the feeling of looking at the clock on the wall of the classroom, watching it tick down toward that final bell? Remember the sound of it and the feelings of relief ? Wow. It’s as clear as a, well, as clear as a bell in my memory.

We’d literally run from the classroom out the door. Those that boarded the buses would toss, what had, in an instant become, irrelevant papers out the bus windows. Lots of them landed in our front yard for me to clean up. I held the term papers with grades that simply didn’t matter for the next few months. Tests that show the progress of the past nine months weren’t the least bit significant now. Summer was here.

Those days, I didn’t think ahead too much. All that mattered was the moment.

I spent my summer days playing baseball. Most summers, our family would take a week’s vacation and then, put the suitcases back in the closet for another year. Most vacations were spent in the same place – Panama City, Florida. We stayed in the same motel by the beach every summer for years. It was comfortable and familiar. To be away from our little home town, alone with mom and dad for a week, with their undivided attention was the best.

After high school, for some reason that I’ve never really been able to explain, I went straight off to college. Louisiana Tech University was only an hour and a half from home but the permanence of moving out of my father’s house was a startling, harsh reality. Still, I couldn’t wait to go.

I don’t think I ever gave much thought to the feelings and emotions my folks were experiencing as their youngest bird flew the coop. And I regret that. When my own boys left for college – and really, once you leave, it’s difficult to go back – I remember hoping and praying that I’d given them what they would need to live. By the grace of God, they’ve done well and for that, I’m extremely thankful.

Many of you reading this are going through an ocean of feelings right now. Some of you are sending your first born off to school for the summer. Some have the summer months to prepare and college will start in the fall.

How are you?

Are you in a mild panic?

It’s time to take stock of God’s mercy, His Grace and His faithfulness. Where we fall short, He is sufficient. When we fail, He uses those failures to produce His good will. Where our families are wounded and broken, He is the Healer.

There may be scars from your past. There may be scars on your children. Acknowledge them, give thanks and move on.

Let go of the bitterness of the past. Some of the bruises may be from recent battles, but let me encourage you to take a deep, deep breath. Forgive those that have wronged you. Forgive those things that were said in anger. Don’t let them rob your family of another day of peace.

And while you’re forgiving others, forgive yourself. Give yourself a break. Lots of times, this is the hardest thing to do. Time is passing and life is short. None of the rest of the world is impressed with our ability to hang on to a grudge. “Oh, what a fine person you are to keep that anger for so many generations. Way to go!” The rest of the world is wrestling with their own problems and they’re not real concerned with ours. So, it’s up to you. Let it go and get on with your life.

Tell that son or that daughter how much you love them. Tell them how proud you are of them . . . even if it’s a stretch! You might be surprised how hard they’ll work to try and meet your expectations if they know you’re on their side right now.

I pray that as the grad season comes and goes again, you’ll put good words, truth and wisdom into the ears of those you love. Be a light. Be the salt of the earth. Make those around you thirst for Him who gave His life so that we might have life abundantly.

And may He bless us all in the days ahead.

Wayne Watson

Monday, May 4, 2009

Seeing the Ground

I flew to Washington Reagan Airport last Saturday and drove to Gainesville, Virginia to spend the night. I was playing at Old Dominion Baptist Church on Sunday morning for a special Compassion International emphasis.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a church so invested in Compassion. The pastor’s spoke about their experiences on the field, seeing the work first hand. Two men gave testimonies and read letters from their sponsored children. The first guy was obviously nervous speaking in front of a thousand people – his hands were shaking. I thought “poor guy’s nervous” then the pastor leaned over to me and told me he was an F-16 pilot that “scrambles” out of the base near DC. Ok. Ok.

I played about 45 minutes and shared the story of my involvement with Compassion. At the end of the service, the pastor asked all of those who sponsor children to stand. It would have been easier to count those that didn’t stand! Amazing. Almost everyone there was a sponsor.

I run into too many churches that are too protective of their people and their people’s money. They’re terrified to open their hearts and wallets to outside ministries – scared that the local funds will dry up. Sad. The pastor was honest enough to tell his congregation that there would need to be sacrifice to sponsor a child in a desperately needy part of the world – “We can’t afford to have you stop giving and tithing to the church” he said. That’s just bringing it. And telling the truth and letting God work out the details with individuals. I loved it.

And these people were so kind. Over and over they were asking me, “How can we pray for you?” Grace permeated their lives and their church. I was led to believe it hadn’t always been that way. But something good happened through crisis – crisis in people’s lives that forced them to put away religious pride and fear and to live, to bathe, in the grace of our Lord. It was completely refreshing.

I can’t help but believe that their open arms and hearts further cultivate this life of real grace. Protectionism doesn’t lead to peace. Territorialism screams fear and panic. Fear doesn’t allow new, mysterious seeds to be planted. A vice grip of total control can stifle new growth and deny you the joy of the unexpected return. The predictable “same ole’ same ole’” might plow on but God is a God of surprises as well as constancy.

Breathe deep and see what surprises your Father has in store.

Speaking of Control….

When my plane was on final approach to Houston last night, it was a bumpy ride through the clouds. I kept looking out the window. Couldn’t see the ground. I felt my shoulders and a few other parts of me clinch.

I am not a pilot. Wanted to be at one time in my life and wanted to fly my own plane to concerts etc. I thought it would allow me more flexibility and freedom as well as allowing me to be home a lot more. I was always aware of the long ( and growing ) list of musicians snuffed out on their own planes.

But that’s not what stopped this dream. It was a lot more practical than that. Simply put, the dangers couldn’t be ignored. There was too much temptation to have to be somewhere. “No, I have to be there.” And then you put yourself in a compromised position, things can go terribly wrong. Then, you’re a headline on a webpage for a few days and a sad story for a generation.

So sitting in the back of the plane, letting the professional handle things, I feel safer. I know they’re pros (and I always feel a little better when my pilot for the day has a few grey hairs on his head) and they know what they’re doing. They read instruments and could do their jobs without ever seeing the ground. But I like to see the ground! I know, I know, the instruments tell them everything. But I like to see the ground! Did I say that I like to see the ground??

Why does that make me feel better?

Lack of complete trust. Desire for some degree of control even though I’m more than a few steps from the cockpit (and frankly, wouldn’t have a clue what to do if I got in there).

My spiritual life has some of those elements too. I know God is God and I am not. I know He is in control even when it doesn’t seem like it. Even when I don’t get it or don’t understand it. But man, I sure breathe easier when I do get it a little or when I do see it.

Guess there’s still work today. I was so looking forward to taking the day off!



By the way, the pic at the top of this page is my first sight of ground last night!