Every once in a while here in Ecuador, I get out to a town called Mindo that’s not too far away where I can reflect and do some recreation. It’s a location that gets ecotourists and other vacationers from around the country and the world. I can get a good hamburger there and a coffee there, and some quiet time. But there’s also a lot of adventure activities, like hikes and river tubing and canopying.
So anyway, I get to the hostel and go up to my room and there’s a young couple from the States across the hall. So we got to talking and the guy’s from Connecticut and they work for a cruise tour agency and they get to travel in the offseason. So, I ask, what did you do today? And they start to tell me about this bird tour they went on. And they couldn’t stop. They headed out with a woman for a walk in nature, having a nice conversation, and then all of a sudden, she stops and says, “Look!” In a matter of seconds, she plops down a tripod and sets up a telescope she had been carrying, adjusts the lens and peeks through with one eye. Then she looks at the couple with a smile. They look through and there’s this amazing bird that they never even knew existed, never mind that it was just across the road. Then, she adjusts the lens again and says, “go ahead and take a picture through the lens.” So they take perfect pictures through the lens of this bird to take with them.
A few minutes later into the walk, and she stops again. “You, move over there!” The guy gets in position, and the girl, and then she tells them to use their first-class, high-quality binoculars that she’s lent them for the trip to look out and see the most amazing bird they had ever seen.
“The whole way she was like that, she was sooo inspired. You could tell she loved birds and what she was doing. You’d be walking along and she’d notice these amazing birds that you never would have known were there!” You could tell that they loved it. “And we didn’t even care about birds!” they said.
So, I asked the question, “how much did it cost?” Now, the usual down here is about $5 or $6 for an activity, and I was wondering.
“But it was worth it!”
So, after they finally stopped talking about the bird woman and the bird tour, I told them what I was doing. How quiet it is in the hostel and the grounds. And the woman said, “Yeah, when I look out the window, all you can see is the birds, and when I go to the bathroom and look out the window, there’s just birds. We’re surrounded by birds!”
And I thought, “She’s caught the spirit.”
It was worth the $30.
Jesus calls us to go out and follow him down a path in life. It’s to see it through his eyes, through his lenses – to notice the amazing things in life that not only are real, but are right next to us, and we don’t see them. And because Jesus is inspired, you’ll catch that joy, that enthusiasm, that fire for the journey. That Spirit.
But, there’s a cost. A big one.
You have to leave everyone and everything behind, and he’s got to be number one. You have to take up your cross every day. Share what you’ve got because it’s not your own. Forgive over and over again.
Following Jesus costs a lot. It is the most expensive tour that exists.
But before you let hesitation and discouragement get any momentum, before you go looking for something more affordable, remember the Mindo bird tour.
Yeah, it costs a lot.
But that’s because it’s worth it.
“If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’ … So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14:26-33)