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Easter . . . 

It was a beautiful and warm evening in Franklin, Tennessee, so my family and I went to a place we love to scooter/walk (the girls scootered, we walked). We stopped at a playground and while the girls were playing (with Erik watching), I decided to take a quick walk around the block to catch up with my mom by phone. When I returned to join my family, I could see my tired and hangry three-year-old in a stand-off with my husband. It was time to go and she was not ready to stop playing with sticks. She screamed her usual, “I HATE YOU, DADDY!” (Judge, if you feel you must. But we did not teach her this phrase.)

A man walking the path (whom I had recognized, though he didn’t recognize me) looked at her as he passed and said, “he doesn’t hate YOU.”

My husband told me what he said and I haven’t been able to get those words out of my head.

He doesn’t hate YOU.

This truth hit me so hard tonight: THIS is the story of Easter.

The God of the universe allowed himself to be brutally murdered while a crowd looked on, yelling, in essence, “WE HATE YOU!!!” His response was not anger, it was, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

He doesn’t hate you.

(I’ve had to pause and wipe some tears while typing this.)

Friend, no matter where you are or what you have done or who you have allowed yourself to become: he doesn’t hate you. Even if you have rejected him time and time again, he doesn’t hate you and HE will not reject YOU if you come to him with your whole heart.

If you’ve refused to let him into your life or if you’ve denied him/become ashamed of his testimony in recent years, if you’ve been blinded by selfish ambition and forgotten your first love, if you’ve become too pre-occupied/busy with tasks to speak to him like you used to, if you’ve forgotten what it means to love your enemies and pray for those who mistreat you, if you are ashamed of the person you have become, if you’ve lied, cheated, stolen, committed adultery, if you’re an idolater, if you’ve done the most horrible thing you never thought you could do, he doesn’t hate you. If you’re a cold-hearted Pharisee, if you’re a lawbreaker who has lost the ability to even feel shame anymore, if you’re a religious enthusiast or someone who can’t even stomach the thought of God or religion, he doesn’t hate you. He won’t reject you. He will accept you. 

Oh, my friend. If you (we) only knew the love of your (our) Father! So much stronger, fairer, and kinder than even the best kind of love an earthly father could give, you (we) would truly never be the same.

God’s love is powerful, redemptive, and transformative. Nothing is too hard for him, no heart is too far-gone. Let him have his way with your life. Let him make you into the man or woman he intended for you to be. Don’t settle for anything less than everything he has for you.

He does NOT hate you. He WILL accept you. He conquered death to defeat the death in you.

The same God who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to you (Romans 8).

To quote Toby Mac’s new song: Help is on the way.

Sunday is coming!

Peace,

Stephanie

P.S. Don’t forget to check out, “Soar”—for you or for anyone who needs a reminder that he’s near to us in the darkness…

www.stephaniestaples.com/soar

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