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-- © GodSpeak International 2009 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.net> --

Author: Teresa Seputis ts@godspeak.net http://www.godspeak.net

The Judgments of God

By Teresa Seputis

Lesson 7
God's Correction

A lot of people think that the words "correction" and "punishment" are the same thing, but they are not. Punishment is one form of correction, but there are many types of correction that do not involve punishment.

There are, in fact, a lot of different reasons why God might correct us, and a lot of different ways that He might do so. Let's look at three of them.

Correction To Change Wrong Behavior or Attitudes

The goal of this type of correction is to get someone to change their behavior (or their thinking) from something that is wrong to something that is right. If correction is done properly, it can be both helpful and appreciated.

Pretend for a moment that you are driving a car and you have a passenger. You are in unfamiliar territory and you get lost, so you stop to ask someone for directions. They tell you to three blocks, turn right. Then go two blocks and turn left, then go another block and turn right. You thank them and start to follow their directions. You drive three blocks and turn right. But your memory gets a bit hazy, and you think the left turn is after one block instead of two. So you turn on your turn signal, and prepare to turn at the first intersection. But your passenger says, "No, don't turn yet. He said to go two blocks before turning left, not one." You say, "Are you sure?" and they say "Yes." So you listen to your passenger and turn at the second intersection instead of the first one. Then you make the final right turn a block later and successfully reach your destination.

You have been corrected while you were driving, but you were not rebuked or punished. The correction was not upsetting. In fact, it was very helpful and (assuming that your passenger told you in a reasonable way), you probably felt pretty good about that correction. It was not designed to put you down in any way or to make you feel bad about yourself or to punish you--it was designed to help you stay on course so you could successfully reach your goal.

And that type of helpful correction is God's first choice; it is what He prefers to use. If we will listen to Him and respond to His gentle correction, then God won't need to take in any further, because He got the change He desired from us.

But if we don't respond to gentle correction, then God is forced to take it to the next level. Sometimes He allows us to suffer part of the natural consequences of our behavior, in hopes that it will get us to change. Other times, He gives us a stronger correction to stop us in our tracks before we get to the place where we will experience some very bad natural consequences of our actions.

Let me use an everyday life type of situation to illustrate both of these. Assume we have a mother, her four year old son (Billy) and the family cat (Tabby). One day Billy discovers that when he yanks hard on the cat's tail, she makes interesting noises, and that is sort of fun to do. His mother sees it and offers a gentle correction, by saying "Billy, don't pull the cat's tail or she might scratch you." But Billy doesn't listen to his mother. The cat escapes and tries to run away, but Billy follows and corners it in the family room. Then he reaches for that tail again.

In the first scenario, his mom is too far away to grab him and she cannot physically stop him. She runs towards the pair yelling, "Billy, I told you to stop pulling the cat's tail!" But Billy ignores her and gives it a hard yank. The cat spins around and scratches his hand so hard that mom had to take him to the doctors and see if he needs stitches. Billy immediately lets go of the cat, grabs his injured hand and beings to cry.

Billy ignored his mother's initial correction and he continued the wrong behavior. In this case, he ended up suffering the natural consequences of that behavior. His mother did not need to punish him when she finally got to him, because the painful cat scratch was already enough punishment to keep him from grabbing the cat's tail again. In fact, Billy will probably give that cat a lot of respect from that point onward, because he learned that it hurts when you get the cat mad at you.

There are times when God 'lets the cat scratch us,' so to speak, to teach us that if we continue with our present behavior, we will get hurt by it. Sometimes when we suffer those natural consequences of our action for a little, we decide we dislike them so much we decide to change our behavior in order to avoid those consequences.

Now, let's go back to Billy and look at another possible scenario. This time his mother reaches him before he can give Tabby's tail a tug. She grabs him, pulls him away from the cat, firmly says "No!" and gives him a spank on his rear to emphasize her point.

Billy gets the idea that if he pulls the cat's tail, then Mom won't like it and she will punish him for it. Of course, he doesn't like the rebuke and the quick spanking, but he remains completely clueless about how horrible a deep cat scratch feels.

If Billy cares about pleasing his mom, then he probably won't pull the cat's tail again in the near future. But if he doesn't care, then the spanking was only a temporary solution and he will probably need another correction in the near future.

Sometimes God "spanks" us (like Billy's mother did) to protect us from something worse. He knows that if He allows us to continue in the way we were going, we will get hurt a lot worse than His spanking will hurt us. We may never know or experience the "bad consequence" that God is protecting us from, just like Billy (in the second scenario) never knew the pain of a deep cat scratch and the need for stitches. However, we will know that God doesn't like it when we do that thing, and we will know that He can be strict about enforcing His rules. We also know that His displeasure can be unpleasant.

If we care about what God thinks about us, then we will try to change our behavior simply because we know it gets Him "mad" at us, and we don't want Him mad. We will probably remain clueless about the bigger danger that His spanking spared us from, since we change our behavior because we don't want to get God mad at us.

I should also mention that if we'd listened to His initial gentle correction, we could have avoided the spanking.

God prefers to start out with gentle warnings or mild corrections. But if we resist God's gentle correction, He will be firmer in the next iteration of that correction. If we are stubborn and keep resisting Him over and over again, we could get to the point where His corrections really do start to feel like harsh punishments.

I don't recommend resisting God's corrections, it is not a good idea.

But if we are yielded to Him and pliable in His hands, then His corrections won't seen at all like punishments. In fact, they will usually seem like really good experiences that help us to excel in our walk with Him. If you are one who loves God and who is quick to obey Him, you never need to be afraid of when He corrects you.

Correction To Help Us Excel

Now, let me switch gears and talk about different type of correction. It is the type of correction I used to get from my ice skating coach.

When I took ice skating lessons, my coach would show me how to do a move, and then I'd try to imitate it. Most of the time I would think that I was doing precisely what he showed me, but I wasn't. So he would point out what I was doing wrong, in order to help me improve. He would say things like, "Don't look down" or "Your rear end is sticking out to much" or "You are not bending your knees enough."

My coach wasn't making fun of me or putting me down; he wasn't trying to hurt my feelings or to insult me. He was trying to help me be become a better skater. He wanted me to be successful, so he gave me the feedback I needed in order to succeed. He did that by explaining what changes I needed to make in order to do the thing that I was trying to do. And when I listened to him and applied his feedback, I became a better skater.

A lot of times, God's correction is that coaching type of correction. He is not even thinking about punishing us for not being perfect in a given area. Instead, He is trying to show us how to improve in that area, so that we can experience our full potential.

Correction To Give Us Direction

This is the kind of correction that I personally value the most. It is the kind of correction that tells me when I am venturing off course, and helps me get back on the right path.

When I was newer to the prophetic and to hearing God's voice, I used to be terrified that I'd "hear wrong" and make some terrible mistake. That fear almost paralyzed me. When God would say something to me, I would seldom act on it right away. I would go back to Him and double-check my hearing. Then, just to be safe, I'd triple check it before I acted on it. As a result, even though I had a heart to obey God, was very sluggish in doing so. I was nearly crippled by the fear of "getting it wrong," and I did not realize that this fear was really a lack of trusting in His faithfulness.

I read verses like Isaiah 30:21, which says, "Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it.'" I wanted God to give me that type of clear direction and guidance. But He did not give it to me, and I remained hesitant to start moving until I knew for sure precisely where He wanted me to go.

One day I was praying desperately for His direction about some important decision in my life. God spoke to me and said, "You know, Teresa, it is easier to steer a moving car than a parked one." At first I did not understand what He meant, so He had to explain it to me. I would sit there and ask for direction, but I would not move unless I heard from Him. However, He was waiting for me to start moving so that He could give me directions. We were at a stale-mate.

I realized that I was going to have to start stepping out in faith and trust God to correct me if I went the wrong way. I cannot tell you how scary that was for me at first. I did not really understand what He meant by "correcting me" if I went the wrong direction, and I sort of assumed that meant He'd punish me for getting it wrong.

God finally took me into a vision to address my fear. He brought me to this big bright area that radiated His glory. The light was so blinding that I could not make out the details of what was around me. I heard an echoing voice that sounded like rolling thunder. It said, "Teresa, come here."

The only problem was that I did not know where "here" was. I could not tell what direction the voice was coming from because it seemed to echo all around me. So I just stood there, feeling helpless.

"Teresa," the voice said, "I told you to come here. Why aren't you obeying Me?"

"Lord, I can't figure out where 'here' is. I am scared I will start moving the wrong direction and move away from You instead of to You."

"Then take your best guess and start moving. Trust Me to be faithful to correct you if you get it wrong."

I can't tell you how scared I was. I took a step, expecting to receive some type of harsh correction because I was going the wrong way. But nothing happened. So I took a second step and then a third, and so on. I kept walking the same direction. Somewhere around the 7th or 8th step, an angel moved behind me. He did not say a word to me, but he put one hand on each shoulder and gently turned me as I moved forward, so that I began walking in a different direction. It took another 10 or 12 steps until I arrived where God wanted me to be.

"Now was that so bad was it?" the Lord asked. "My correction wasn't so scary, was it?"

"When did You correct me, Lord?" I asked.

He explained that His correction was to turn me slightly while I was in motion, to get me moving the direction He wanted me to move. But that did not feel like "correction" (which I assumed was some type of punishment)--it felt like He was helping me. Then God explained that was what His correction was intended to be--something to help us do what He asked us to do. We still had to do our part and start moving, but He would be faithful to guide us while we were in route, so that we moved in the correct direction.

That vision changed the way I looked at God's direction and at His correction. I began to step out in obedience when God gave me a little piece of direction instead of waiting for Him to show me the whole plan. I discovered that He is faithful to "steer me" as I step out to obey. It doesn't matter if I accidentally get it wrong and start to do the wrong thing...God will correct me and show me what direction He wants me to move.

I couldn't really have confidence in His faithfulness to correct until I experienced it a few times. At times, I would do my best to figure out what God wanted me to do, but I would get it wrong. Then He would move in with clarification and redirection. He would never get mad at me for "missing it," He would just show me that I was going the wrong direction and set me on the right course. And after He gently corrected a few "wrong turns," His faithfulness started to become real to me, and I learned that I can trust Him to correct me when I start to make a mistake or go the wrong direction.

Now I am not afraid of that type of correction. Instead I am very relieved that He is faithful to give it.

(In case you haven't already figured this out yet, God wants to give you the same type of faithful correction and direction that I have been talking about. The key is that you need to start taking small steps and learn to trust Him.)

-- © GodSpeak International 2009 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.net> --

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