Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
“You find what you look for!” That was an important life lesson that my friend Bob taught me when I asked the reason for his positive and gracious spirit.
Bob told of his past struggles with alcoholism and some of the messes that went with it. Life had spun out of control for him when a caring friend gave him an assignment. “Bob, I want you tomorrow to count every green car you see and then tomorrow night call me and tell me how many.”
Bob thought his friend’s request sounded crazy, but he was desperate for help; he would try anything. So, the next day Bob started counting every green car he saw going and coming from work, and then called his friend that night to report.
“Wonderful,” Bob’s friend responded enthusiastically. “Tomorrow, I want you to do the same thing. Count every green car you see and call me tomorrow night to tell me how many.”
Dutifully, a desperate Bob did as he was asked, counting the green cars he saw during his day and reporting to his friend that night. But then, Bob just had to ask, “Why am I doing this? Why do you have me counting green cars?”
“Bob,” his friend began, “you had no idea how many green cars there are out there. You knew there were a lot of white cars, black cars, and silver cars, but you had not a clue there were so many green cars until you started looking for and counting them.”
Then Bob’s friend drove home his point: “You will find in life what you look for. You look for mean people and you will find them, plenty. You look for ugliness and you will find it too. You look for beauty and you will find it; you look for love and you will find it. That is because you find what you look for.”
Bob then explained to me how, from that day, he looks for kindness and finds it, and looks for goodness and finds it too. Bob explained how his life had been changed by what he looks for.
I listened to Bob, vowing to change what I look for and find that it works for me too! I look for gracious and kind people, and am never disappointed. I look for beauty and find it, even on a scorching hot Arizona day.
Today’s scripture is about the apostle Paul finding what he looks for. Paul is in a Roman prison, chained to two soldiers, but writes joyfully about his circumstances (Philippians 1:12, 18: 4:4). Paul then carefully asks readers to watch what they look for, thinking about “things…true – honorable – just – pure – pleasing – commendable – any excellence – worthy of praise…” Yes, there is a lot of ugliness and viciousness in the world; look at the news! But there is so much goodness and love if we look for it! We will seldom be disappointed if we look for it.
So, I thank my friend Bob, and yes, Paul, who keep on teaching me: “You find what you look for!”
A fellow traveler,