My word for today was "guide." I began to search on the internet for commentaries on Jesus as our guide. My search came up pretty much empty. There were discussions of guides about Jesus, there were study guides themselves, but little on Jesus as guide. One link that struck me was a translation of the hymn by Nicholas von Zinzendorf that I know as "Jesus, Still Lead On." In this translation, the text began, "Jesus! Guide our Way." This made me think about the words, "guide" and "leader." Pretty soon I felt like I was in the Bing search engine commercial in which "googlers" are free-associating "ala google," a problem which the focused searches in Bing are supposed to avoid. My next association was with the word "shepherd."
My prayer/study time ran out. Later today I decided to spend fifteen minutes in meditation and prayed before beginning my meditation that God would lead me to some understanding of those three words, all of which were study words that I had not posted about. Maybe that's why God hadn't given me the time: God knew I wasn't finished digesting their meanings for me.
At the end of meditation time, I began to think about what the differences between "guide," "leader," and "shepherd" are for me, not the dictionary definitions, but my own personal definitions. For me, a guide is one who accompanies us into uncharted territory on a journey of our own choosing, one who has explored this territory that is new for us and is able to lead past any pitfalls and to enlighten us about what might otherwise have escaped us had we journeyed on our own. A leader is one who points us in ways we might not have chosen to go on our own, giving us direction without our seeking that direction. A shepherd leads without explaining the journey; the flock simply goes where the shepherd takes it, not knowing until the journey is over what the destination is.
Now that there is some clarity in my thinking about these three names for, or characteristics of, Jesus, I think that I can proceed to explore them in subsequent posts. I'm open to others' views about distinctions between these three words, if anyone is compelled to comment.