Eldredge, on stages of relationship with God:
The Bible uses a number of metaphors to describe our relationship to God at various stages. If you’ll notice, they ascend in a stunning way:
- Potter and clay. At this level we are merely aware that our lives are shaped–even broken–by a powerful hand. There isn’t much communication, just the sovereignty of God at work.
- Shepherd and sheep. At this stage we feel provided for, watched over, cared about. But beyond that, a sheep has little by way of true intimacy with the Shepherd. They are altogether different creatures.
- Master and servant. Many, many believers are stuck in this stage, where they are committed to obey, but the relationship is mostly about receiving orders and instructions and carrying them out.
- Father and child. This is certainly more intimate than being a servant; children get the run of the house, they get to climb on Daddy’s lap. These fortunate souls understand God’s fatherly love and care for them. They feel “at home” with God.
- Friends. This stage actually opens up a deeper level of intimacy as we walk together with God, companions in a shared mission. We know what’s on his heart; he knows what’s on ours. There is a maturity and intimacy to the relationship.
- Bridegroom and bride (lovers). Here, the words of the Song of Songs could also describe our spiritual intimacy, our union and oneness with God. Madame Guyon wrote, “I love God far more than the most affectionate lover among men loves his earthly attachment.”
I, unfortunately, make frequent stays in stages 2 and 3, while longing to prolong my brief visits to 4.