The Christian life has some parallels to how a child grows.
When I had entered my first spiritual wilderness experience, it was as a spiritual infant. At the time I had a great natural example in front of me—my son Addison, who was about eighteen months old.
Lisa was a great mother, so when Addison whimpered, she was right there to care for him. In a flash he would be in her arms, enjoying the sustenance and comfort as he breastfed.
But then Addison, as does every child, needed to grow toward maturity. With all our boys—we have four—the time came when they needed to feed themselves. Oh my, what a mess—I’m sure you know what I mean! They try to eat, and half the food is all over the high chair and the floor.
During this time, children become frustrated with their parents because they aren’t spoon-fed like in the past. They whine and cry as you try to be a responsible parent. When our sons were flinging the food around, we wanted to jump in and take over, yet we knew it would hinder their progress. We were allowing our boys to grow up. We certainly didn’t want to end up still spoon-feeding one of them when he was an adult.
As babies grow, the level of assistance they receive changes to encourage growth and development. God does a similar thing with us, so we can develop and mature spiritually. When we are newly born again and filled with His Spirit, for a season He manifests Himself at our every cry. But then after time passes—and hopefully we move beyond just wanting milk (Hebrews 5:12)—in order to help us grow up and mature, He allows us to go through times in which He does not respond instantly to our every call.
When the Lord helped me understand that growing in spiritual maturity was something like the process every person must experience from childhood to adulthood, I became more reflective and wondered, Have I been wrong? Is what I’m going through not some kind of punishment from the Lord? Is it possible that I’ve been led to the wilderness to learn something—to grow in some way that will make me better equipped to follow and serve Jesus?
The truth is, you’re not just going through a wilderness season; you’re growing through it.