If you will not listen to me . . . I will visit you with panic . . . I will set my face against you . . . Leviticus 26:14-17
Though I certainly experienced misery and angst in my addiction, I do not have to go that far back in time to remember the last time my impulsive behavior led me to remorse. When doing pullups at the gym, I find myself wishing I had eaten less over the last week. When I hurt my family with my selfishness or anger, I regret that I did not consider the consequences of my actions.
The most palpable way I experience remorse though, is in the morning when I go to spend time with God after I have willfully gone astray. It can be as simple as binge eating the night before. When I pursue instant gratification, in a way that I know is destructive for me, I find it hard to communicate with God until I have addressed the issue.
Why do I engage in behavior that leads me to remorse and distance from God? Is it out of ignorance? Do I not know the consequences of indulging in my pride or anger? No, it is simply out of preference. When I engage in harmful behavior, I know what the outcome will be. I just do it anyway. In that momentary desire, I simply ignore the consequences.
Not all of our pain is self-inflicted, but as today’s passage reveals, we do experience anxiety, misery and opposition to God when we go our own way. We don’t like to think that God punishes us, but He certainly disciplines us when we willfully disobey Him. Though we are eternally forgiven, we still experience discomfort and angst when we purposefully defy God.
The opposite is true as well though. When we follow God and deny our destructive impulses, we experience the peace and comfort of a clean conscience. If we find ourselves in a state of agitation and distance from God today, we must address yesterday’s behavior. When we follow God, He fills us with His life and joy.