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Posted: August 23, 2012 9:33 p.m.

Dees: Running away from home

Becoming an atheist is a lot like running away from home. I have talked to many atheists who have left the church or belief in God and the idea of running away from home is what they communicate. Now they may not say this overtly, but in every atheist I know, there is a certain fear or lack of peace similar to the fear in every runaway child. When I was a child, I tried to "run away" from home on two separate occasions, both were short-lived and lasted no more than an afternoon. The first was more of a "run out" than a "run away." I was probably about 6 years old and had gotten in trouble and rather than face the sure punishment I was about to get, I decided to run away. About 10 minutes into my "run out" though, a huge rainstorm struck my street, Antietam Drive in Huntsville, Ala. Wet, cold and without shelter, I was forced to hang my head and return home. The second run away was another decision of passion. I had again gotten into trouble and again decided that it would be better to run out than to face the punishment that was coming my way. But that time, being a couple of years older, I was a little wiser and I immediately sought shelter. My plan was to move in with my best friend Chris Brown and the plan worked brilliantly for about four hours until my parents called the Brown house and Chris' dad told me I needed to go home. A lot of kids get frustrated with their parents and in that frustration they decide to move out to go and make it on their own. These plans usually never work and it is an embarrassing moment when you have told your parents that you were running away only to return home a few hours later.

Most of the atheists I know have a story a lot like a child who ran away from home. They got frustrated with God, they didn't like his rules, they didn't like his way, and so they decided to "run away." "If I don't believe in God, I won't have to obey him, I won't have to listen to him, or do what he says." Some atheists may have been hurt by God. "God didn't come through for them," so they decided, "he must not exist." But when the frustration wears off, these atheists have to decide whether or not they will return to God. By God's grace, some do and the Lord loves to see someone who was lost return home. But some cannot face the embarrassment of humbling themselves to say, "I was wrong," and tragically they are willing to remain in the lonely place of atheism.

Atheism is a lonely, scary and depressing place. If you really are an atheist, it is up to you to decide your own morality, which is really not a morality but a list of your own preferences. As an atheist, you have to accept that there is no purpose for the universe and therefore no purpose for your life. As an atheist, you have no control of the world around you and no ally who is in control of the world around you. As an atheist, you have no control over your own eternal fate after death. This is a frightening reality to be in, like a 6 year old trying to manage in the world with no parents.

Ultimately, there really are no true atheists. We were created by God to recognize that there is a God in the universe. There are however people who have suppressed this truth because they got frustrated with God and have been unwilling to return to him.

To that man or woman I say this: God loves you. He loves you so much and wants more than anything for you to return to him. He will forgive your sin through the work of Christ and desires to give you purpose, meaning and peace in this life.

Quit running from him. Don't be embarrassed to return to him. God and his church are calling for you to return.

Jason Dees is a grateful follower of Jesus Christ, the husband of Paige and the father of Emery Anna. He is also the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Covington.

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