Towards the end of my sophomore year at The Citadel, my company’s TAC officer pulled me aside and told me I had been selected to be on cadre the following year. The cadre are responsible for training the matriculating freshmen and ensuring they come up to the standards of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets. I was the quiet type of cadet corporal. I didn’t yell or scream. I used reason and simple cause and effect solutions to get my point across. This wouldn’t work on cadre, he explained. I needed to be the image of the Marine drill instructor (DI) during cadre. It was important for the overall training. Naturally, I asked why.
Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way. The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” Then the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.” – Genesis 18:16-21, ESV
Here God lets Abraham in on what’s going on with Sodom and Gomorrah. Those two cities were about to undergo punishment. While Lot was out in that region, Abraham had chosen to live away from those cities as part of an agreement with Lot. So why did God inform Abraham what He was going to do? I think a lot has to do with the words, “he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice,” because it’s very telling as to what God’s intention was. Abraham would be responsible for passing on to his descendants what God expected. And part of passing on those expectations also involved passing on how God handled those who continually were disobedient. That’s what Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of. The people there had strayed far away from anything resembling a healthy reverence and respect for the Lord’s commands. While Abraham couldn’t do anything about it, God still thought he should know the situation and understand why punishment was going to be doled out.
That TAC officer wanted me to understand the why of being like a DI. I was going to be a cadre sergeant. I would have a squad of freshmen (knobs) I would be responsible for. The techniques I employed were useful after cadre was over, when the knobs had the firm foundation of how to be a proper cadet under their belts. There was a reason and purpose for everything that was done during cadre. There were sound explanations for the methods of training both at The Citadel and in the US Armed Forces. Over the next 15-20 minutes, he used example and explanation to help me understand what was expected of me and why it was important. That way, when it came time to do the job, I’d be better prepared. I had a role to play and I needed to understand it.
Abraham had a role to play, too. He was the patriarch of a promised family, the one that would carry God’s promise to the world. Abraham was responsible for training his family to be faithful to God, to know why they did what they did and believed what they believed. So God took the time to give Abraham a little more insight. God wanted Abraham to understand more of the how and why. That would lead to greater obedience on Abraham’s part and also would allow Abraham to teach his descendants the how and why, too, so they would understand more and hopefully be more obedient as well.
God often does the same thing for us. We all have roles to play. We all have responsibilities before God. God could sit back and tell us what to do and leave it at that. He has every right, for He is sovereign. But often times, if we are willing to listen, He will let us in. He will share the hows and the whys. He’s not interested in obedience to a checklist for the checklist’s sake. He’s looking for hearts that serve Him lovingly and willingly and joyfully. That means sometimes sharing the reasons or giving us additional insights. When He chooses to reveal in this way, we must be attentive. We must remember. And we must apply. Has the Lord tried to show you something recently? Maybe it wasn’t directly related to something you were involved in, but I guarantee there was a lesson there He wanted you to learn. Or maybe the Lord is waiting for you to be ready to listen and take in. Are you ready? If not, what’s stopping you? The Lord has a lot to reveal to us, if we’re receptive to Him.