Taking the scripture of when the Israelites came out of Egypt, remember when they first came to the border of the promised land? they sent in 12 spys to find out the situation. 10 came back and said that it was too hard for them to conquer, 2 (Joshua and Caleb) said they could do it with God's help. But the people decided they couldn't trust God, so they missed the opportunity to go into the land and instead they spent 40 years wandering about until the old ones (self or the flesh as Paul refers to it if we apply it to our situation).
May I suggest that when we become Christians we are taken out of bondage (Egypt / the world), and offered the promised land. Some people go into the land because of their unbridled faith in God, wheras others, with less faith, must spend years getting rid of the old self, flesh, before they can enter in. I am not saying this is a once and for all situation, I believe that once we've overcome one 'mountain' we are met with another one and the same choice 'do you trust God enough to move on in faith?' You can see how some Christians move along with God whereas others seem to struggle along the narrow way.
This is a preamble to my the lesson I've learned this week. Let us see where I was with God at the start of the week; I recognised that I was in a desert place, you know what it's like, you feel as if you are getting nowhere and that God is at a distance. The experienced Christian will know that they are still on the path and it's just a time of testing. I recognised my situation but I let the Devil talk me off the path. here's how he did it: There came a point during the end of the week when I was looking in the direction of sin, my eyes were off Christ but as yet my feet were still on the right road. Satan's voice came to me; 'you are away from God, just this little sin won't make any difference' and I knew the reply was not to debate with Satan but to put my eyes on Jesus. pray or read the bible, anything that would fix my eyes on Him and so repel the Devil. I chose to sin. I knew what I was doing was wrong and I followed my heart (that deceitful and wicked thing) instead of my Saviour.
I got up to pray this morning, and I knelt to face the music. I have been in this situation before and I know how God can deal with me with His rod of correction. I also know that if I just go quiet and allow the 'voices' to speak, then I will hear the condeming words of the Dragon together with some form of punishment that is not of God but from guilt and the desire of self to somehow atone for my sinfulness. So I opened my heart to God and looked to Him for correction. As usual, His words of discipline were a suprise to me, not that He spoke, but what He said. Going back to the analogy of the Israelites in the wilderness, He showed me what had happened, spiritually, to me this week. I was in the wilderness, as I had recognised, but His presence was away from me so I felt as if I was in error (so the Devil convinced me that I could sin and not make my situation worse). Actually I was where I should have been, as the Jews were when Moses went up the mountain. If I had just waited on God, like the Jews didn't, Moses would have returned to lead me on, (Moses here is a type of Christ). But I did what the Israelites did and went back to my old gods, they built a golden cow, remember?
Now what God showed me was this, and I will have to be careful here cos it's almost like a loophole or a cop-out. Before 'Moses' came back, in my situation, I went to God to ask Him to deal with me, expecting the rod of correction, instead I got the staff of guidance through His mercy, why? because there was a line I didn't cross, yes I sinned but instead of saying to myself 'you've sinned now, you will pay for this so you might as well sin more before you pay, trying to get more for your money, understand the (sad) logic? But I had not continued in my sin, rather I Had gone to the foot of the Cross where I found mercy instead of correction. Please note my caution earlier, I am not saying I got away with it, or that God will not use His rod a little further down the line, but that I had got rid of the golden cow before Moses came back and so obtained mercy instead of correction. In a way you could say that God did correct me, just using a different method.
To summarise I would like to suggest that God will use His rod of correction or staff of guidance to keep us on the path,
Psalm 23:4 ...thy rod and staff, they comfort me.
Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
His rod and staff show me He loves me and I am a child of God, sometimes we need the correction of the rod, most of the time we need His guidance to keep us on the path, and looking to Him. I am guessing that if I use this lesson as a 'loophole' and sin willfully thinking that I will just go to Him looking for mercy, that imaginary line will get nearer, and next time maybe Moses will come down from the mountain before I've got rid of the golden cow, Then His rod of correction will put me in my place.
So I guess I'm still in the wilderness and I must wait patiently on Him, not thinking that I'm out of His will and open myself to the lies of the devil. I must remind myself of this lesson, so I don't fall to temptation as easily as I did.
I hope this encourages some.