The path on which I walk Grace borders an open valley filled with natural grasses, withered flowers, and more recently, snow. When I see that the path is free of other dog walkers, I let Grace off of her pink leash and use the electronic collar to communicate with her. This way, she runs free through the terrain. As a German Shorthaired Pointer, God made Grace to run. In the valley she flies across the grasses, and often leaps and bounds through the air. Watching her leap through the valley reflects God’s glory. It’s majestic to watch.

I find myself pondering the word “leap.” While I might leap into the air if I see a snake or strange spider, I wonder about leaping with joy and excitement. When my son and his wife surprised Gary and I with the news of their pregnancy – I leapt into the air and shrieked with delight. When Sophie and Peter brought home Tundra, their Samoyed puppy, I leapt with excitement watching him scurry across the floor resembling a fluffy snowball.

Leap – To jump or spring a long way, to a great height, or with great force. To move quickly and suddenly. To jump across or over. To act eagerly and suddenly. To accept eagerly.

Leaping occurs both externally and internally. Consider for a moment the Gospel account from Luke 1 when Mary, after encountering Gabriel, being overshadowed by God Most High, and miraculously conceiving, visited her cousin Elizabeth.

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Imagine for a moment. What did this leap within Elizabeth’s womb feel like? In what ways do you imagine this “leap” within her?

As I consider this, I wonder if the leap felt like her breath was momentarily taken away? Or, maybe Elizabeth experienced the leap like a giant kick in the tummy from the baby in her own womb? Perhaps, the stirring of the Spirit within Elizabeth brought about a strong tickling swirl moving across her insides? Maybe, Elizabeth even physically jumped closer to Mary as she sensed the leap inside of her? Hummm…

I find it fun to ponder and imagine this significant leaping movement. In whatever way Elizabeth experienced the leap, the resulting response was courage (vs. 41-42), blessing (vs.42), delight (vs. 43), and praise to God (vs. 44-45). Wow!

As you and I journey with God through this Advent season, what evokes such a response within our souls? In what ways do we leap within? How does God move us toward courage, blessing, delight, and praise? What are practices, people, places and passions that quicken within you joyful eagerness and animated acceptance?

Let’s leap with the Lord internally and externally.

Courage – Allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with courage to love others well this season. Share the meaning of Christmas with those that do not know Jesus. Live generously with what God has given you.

Blessing – Receive God’s blessing to your inmost being. Know that God loves you. Speak words of blessing over family, friends, and even strangers. Be intentional with the ways you interact with others. Reflect the love of God.

Delight – Soak in Scripture by reading slowly and meditating upon a word or phrase throughout the day. Pay attention to what delights you. Watch loved ones play, cook, and explore. Remember God’s goodness and grace.

Praise – Celebrate Jesus! Speak aloud of your spiritual journey. Listen to Christmas carols and praise music. Sing songs of worship with others. Live with gratitude for God’s most generous gift to humankind. Thank God that His promises remain true!

Notice – what stirs within your soul as you live with a leap within you?

May the joy of the Lord flood your heart, mind, and body this advent season. Leap with God. Let the way you live invite others to experience this powerful movement of God in them and around them.

Merry Christmas!

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Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

Psalm 28:7 –  The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

2 Samuel 6:16 – As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window… she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord…

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.

A.W. Tozer and James L. Snyder. Alive in the Spirit: Experiencing the Presence and Power of God. Bloomington, MN. 2016.

Liz Curtis Higgs. The Women of Christmas: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna. Colorado Springs, CO. 2013.

Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.

Penatonix. Mary, Did You Know?.

Go Fish. Joy to the World.

Puddles for Prayer: Thank you for praying for upcoming travel and speaking engagements.

January 12 – Breathe Retreat – Littleton, CO

February 21-March 4 – Australia with Gary, on behalf of GTP

March – Lviv, Ukraine – teaching course on soul care at Ukraine Baptist Theological Seminary