Living in London and working in Westminster, it’s easy to develop a love-hate relationship with the many tourists that come to our great capital every year. We love visitors to our city of course; we appreciate their interest in our culture (and their income too) but there are a few irksome habits they have that irritate even the most patient Londoner, like standing still on the left of escalators blocking hurrying commuters, tripping up local residents with their wheelie bags, trying to use a paper ticket on an oyster card reader, and entering the tube without waiting for people to get off (outrageous). But before I sound too much like a grumpy old man (too late you say, perhaps you’re right) tourists have a lot to teach us.

The point hit me recently whilst trying to rush past a tourist daring to leisurely ambling along the pavement in front of me, and even stop dead in his tracks for no apparent reason, save to gaze at the sights and scenery of London. Am I missing something I thought? Have I become a victim of what artists call “visual lethargy” which means that the more you see something the less you actually see it. Have I become awe-stuck? Has rushing around and over familiarity with the things of God and His creation caused me to lose my awe of God? Perhaps you know the feeling.

On that commute to work the first day, you notice the beautiful grove of trees in a common, the Thames glistening in the sun and the impressive London skyline. But by your twentieth trip, you’ve stopped noticing, you wished the train would move faster so you could get to work sooner. Something has happened to you that seems inevitable but is not good. You have stopped seeing, and in your failure to see, you have stopped being moved and thankful. The beauty that once attracted you is still there to see, but you don’t see it, and you cannot celebrate what you fail to see.

Perhaps it’s time you, like me, started behaving like a tourist, now and again, at least? When was the last time you stopped and looked up and around at the wonders of God’s creation and what His creatures (expressing their Maker’s creativity) have constructed? When was the last time you really tasted your food? Or savoured a piece of music or a painting, or some great architecture? Moreover, when was the last time you found yourself lost in wonder at the grace of God and perhaps the greatest miracle of all, salvation, not least your own? Now that should be enough to make you stop suddenly in the street.

If you feel awestuck today take some time to chew, ponder, reflect, observe and taste the goodness of God in His word and His world. You won’t be disappointed. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)