The story is told of a Middle Eastern traveler making his way on a long journey across the desert.
As he plodded on his camel steadily through the dry heat, he came upon an oasis. Approaching the desert spring, the traveler was surprised to find three brothers weeping profusely.
Through conversation with the mourning brothers, the traveler discovered their father had recently passed away. The source of the tears was the brother’s inability to satisfy their fathers’ last wish.
The father had given strict instructions that the inheritance of his estate be divided in such a way that the oldest received one half, the second received one third, and the youngest received one ninth of the father’s estate.
The brothers had successfully divided the rest of their father’s property, but were unable to do so with the camels. The father had left them 17 camels, and, try as they may, the brothers could not distribute the camels according to father’s wishes.
The traveler considered the dilemma and then offered the brothers a solution. He insisted they receive his camel as a gift. After much conversation and many attempts at refusal, the brothers relented to the travelers’ demands and received the kindness of his gift.
With 18 camels, the brothers were able to properly divide the inheritance and satisfy their father’s wishes. The older brother received one half of the herd and took his 9 camels. The second brother received one third of the herd and took his 6 camels. The youngest brother received one ninth of the herd and took his 2 camels.
Surprisingly, 9 camels plus 6 camels plus 2 camels equals 17 camels. With the inheritance properly distributed, the traveler was able to take his camel and continue on his journey.
What solution do you have to offer to the desperate situations around you? What comfort or resolution can your wisdom and generosity bring to those God brings into your path? Are you riding on the 18th camel?
(Special thanks to my dear friend Loren Bryant for introducing me to “The Story of the 18th Camel.”)