“Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things.” — Philippians 4:8 MEV
Whatever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, whatever things are of good report — as I meditated on this verse I found my mind wandering. Here I was supposed to be thinking on these things — literally, because this was my passage for lectio divina — and instead, for whatever reason, I was thinking about layaway.
I guess I was thinking about my bad haircut, because it was my hairdresser who told me she had recently been to a Kmart store, and they had brought back layaway. She thought it was a great; you could do your Christmas shopping now, make sure you got whatever you liked, and then pay it off over the fall. And it is great. What I was thinking about today was the time when I was a young adult and put a snazzy suede and shearling jacket on layaway at Kmart.
It can’t have been real suede or shearling, at Kmart, but I remember it was very cool, and I was telling my parents about it later. It probably cost $129 — I can’t remember any jacket at Kmart costing more, and I probably had to put 10% down. At any rate, My old dad gave me the money to go back and get it the next day. He didn’t want me to have to wait for it. He was every kind of crazy, but he loved me very much, as best as he could considering who and what he was.
As I read my scripture passage again, to try to redirect my thoughts to whatsoever things are pure, just, lovely and of good report — it occurred to me, that really what these words all describe is the Divine Mystery: Father, Son, Spirit. To keep our thoughts focused on what is good, the easiest and most effective route is to keep our thoughts focused on God himself.
Next it occurred to me , perhaps my reflection on Kmart, layaway and my dad’s gift, weren’t so off-base as I had imagined. When you think of God’s love for us, you can see the same story. We see the kind of life we want — peaceful, joyful, fulfilling… And we do what we think is our part, we put our 10% down. But we can’t really ever pay it off.
Thankfully our loving heavenly Father has already paid the entire amount. There’s really nothing we need to do except enjoy our new jacket.