He divided unto them…

“And he divided unto them his living.”  Luke 15:12

It is easy to lose this early text in the Prodigal Son parable amongst the rest of the story.  In a hurry to get to the “riotous living”, the feeding of the swine, the regret, the return, the rest of the story, it becomes easy to forget that in the beginning, the father had to divide unto them his living.  He is called to literally divide his living and hand a portion (apparently 1/3 based on the commentaries I have read) over to the younger son.  So he does.

Perhaps that is the power of this verse, the matter-of-factness of it.  We get no sense of angst from the father.  Indeed, there is, at least implicitly, an acceptance, if not a willingness on the part of the father to provide to his child what he has labored for, worried over, and treasured – no strings attached, no “you’re gonna wish you hadn’t,” no “don’t screw it up,” no side of guilt along with the gift.

That is, of course, how God hands things over to us – freely, no strings attached.  The “you’re gonna wish you hadn’t,” the “don’t screw it up,” if they come at all, have to come from others, or internally.  The parable makes no reference to the younger son, at this point, expressing any gratitude to the father.  Later, yes, but here, no.  When does that gratitude show up in my story?

The song line that echoes in my mind here is from Dan Fogelberg’s Leader of the Band.

“I thank you for the freedom when it came my time to go.  I thank you for the kindness and the times when you got tough.  And papa, I don’t think I said ‘I love you’ near enough.”

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