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A Deal With Dad

Each night at our house we have this ritual. Every night, my wife puts my daughter to bed, and Adam and I have what we call Daddy time. It begins with us watching a little TV together, and then we go upstairs to read together, pray, and then Adam goes to sleep. And every night, when we hit the first step, the ritual goes something like this:
“Now Adam, we’re going to go upstairs and we’re going to read a book, but we’re going to only read two chapters.”
He says, “I’ve got a deal for you. How about we read tens of billions?”
“That’s a lot of chapters. How about we read three chapters?”
“How about ten thousand chapters, Dad?”
So goes the negotiation as we are walking up the steps, and we usually land somewhere between three and five chapters. We sit down and we start reading together, and when we get to chapter five, I remind him, “Adam, this is the last chapter.”
I’ve won the battle. He’s accepted that this is the end. I’m going to read these two pages and then I’m going downstairs.
Until I read those two pages. “Aw, man. Dad, if you’ll just read one more chapter, I’ll do ANYTHING for you.”
Occasionally I consider calling his bluff. It would be great to have him go downstairs and take the trash to the road ‘cause I really don’t want to do it and it is gross and stinky.
But you know, ingrained in all of us there is something that makes us feel that we have to earn good gifts. So with Adam, I have begun to say, “Adam, if you’ll just say to me, ‘Daddy, because you love me, will you read me one more chapter,’ I’ll do it.” I want him to understand that my intention to give him favor isn’t based on anything he can do. It is based on our relationship: I am his father, and he is my son.
So now he says, “Dad, I know you love me so much. Could we read just one more chapter?”
“Absolutely!” And the second time he says it, I say, “Absolutely, tomorrow night!”
We look at the goodness of what God has to offer and we innately think, “I have to earn it. It’s just too good.” But the Gospel says that this goodness is free  – you couldn’t earn it if you wanted to!
Chris Lawson

Founder of, husband to Merri, father to Adam, Ellie, and Zachary, and executive pastor @reynoldachurch. Lives to make Jesus famous. He enjoys watching the Atlanta Braves and UNC basketball, as well as demeaning and insulting whatever sports teams you root for. He knows a disturbing amount about television and movies.

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