Things were going so well for the Israelites until they made one big mistake: the Golden Calf Incident. Moses had been gone for a lengthy period of time (he was meeting with God on the mountain), and the Israelites became so restless for an intercessor with God that they decided to fashion one on their own. Sadly, they had just received the commandments and were in violation of a number of them because of this act. Rather than giving up, though, Moses pleaded with God that He might spare the people and hold back his wrath in spite of their grievous sin.
Moses says something in Exodus 33:15 that I think is worthy of note. Moses didn't want to head to the Promised Land without God's presence. He understood that Israel had sinned in a very big way, and he understood that a lot was on the line. But he determined that, if God would not keep walking with them, the Israelites couldn't keep walking at all. He was essentially making the statement that life without God isn't worth living. The people were repentant and were ready to turn back to the Lord, and thankfully the Lord was ready to keep walking with them. No matter how far we stray from Him, God is willing to allow us to turn back, and He's ready and waiting for us when we do.