Have you ever been to Blackpool? If so, you’ll know what I’m talking about. I went this week for my first proper visit to the seaside town – and did the works – The Tower, The Circus, The Lights, The Rock …….. What it revealed was some of my prejudice.
Blackpool is not Britain’s most sophisticated location (I’m waiting for the emails on that comment) – renowned for cheap 2* hotels, candy floss, fruit machines, crude comedians, lots of beer and fried food. As I strolled along through the apparently endless Poundlands, kebab shops, seaside cabarets etc. my snobbishness began to surface. I began to think of myself as above all this, and of a rather more sophisticated sort than most of the people here.
Problem – this attitude doesn’t lend itself to compassion, kindness, humility etc. – all of which I have signed up to as a Christian. So as I walked along the promenade under the northern drizzle I asked God to change my thoughts. I remembered that when Jesus looked over the crowds he saw them as “sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36) and was “moved with compassion”. Then I began to see my fellow day trippers and holiday makers as people – each one with a story. I began to imagine what it would be like to be leading a church in the centre of Blackpool rather than the centre of Cirencester. And, do you know what – within a few minutes my prejudice and bad attitude was rolling away, to be replaced with an excitement about what God is, and could be up to in Blackpool.
That evening we walked along the promenade to see the famous Blackpool Illuminations. They are quite spectacular in places. However, standing alone, about half way along the sea front we came across a wonderful illumination stating that “Jesus is the Light of the World” (picture above). It took its place proudly amongst all the other lights. It stood there in the darkness shining its message to the thousands passing by that night. And was a reminder to me that God was already here, long before I arrived; and that he cares for these people far more than I do.
God, change my heart.