now panic and melt down

My friend and I drive 40 minutes to church every week. And then we drive 40 minutes home.

People absolutely freak out when they hear this. By the time I explain that I live in Missouri but go to church in Illinois, they are in full-on meltdown mode.

Their reactions usually involve some kind of gasp, a look of horror, a little bit of confusion, and a Jim Gaffigan-style voice that whispers, “That doesn’t make any sense!”

But here’s the dirty little secret: Lutheranism doesn’t make sense.

It’s a theology that based on believing what you can’t see, getting what you don’t deserve, living when you should be dead. It’s all about being acquitted when you ought to be condemned, receiving what you should be giving, rejoicing when you could be suffering.

That doesn’t make sense.

And yet it does.

And that’s why we are Lutheran.

I grew up in northwest Iowa where nothing is close to anything. But my parents drove us an hour to a faithful Lutheran church, because they believed that what our Lord has to give was worth it. In college, I drove a half hour to a church because I believed it too. Now my parents drive an hour and 15 minutes, into another state, and I drive 40 minutes, across a river and into Illinois, because I get the good stuff at that church.

There I’m given Christ and His cross. I get the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. I sit in on a killer Bible study that leaves ME with a gasp, a look of horror, a little bit of confusion, and a Jim Gaffigan-style voice that whispers, “No, really. That doesn’t make any sense!”

For that, I would drive hours.

Days even.

Whatever it took.

We live in a culture where people will drive an entire Saturday to go to their kid’s volleyball game. They’ll battle 45 minutes  of eight lanes of traffic to get to work. They’ll speed just as far to get to the mall or the latest restaurant or to see Kenny Chesney’s bald head in concert.

{Just kidding. He’s never gonna take off that baseball hat.}

Those people know that forty minutes is nothing.


For what the Lord has to give,  those minutes are actually a joy.

No meltdown required.

13 thoughts on “now panic and melt down

  1. I lived in Japan for a year and the only church worth attending was an hour away. I grew up living 2 minutes from the church, so this was quite a change. Sundays ended up being my favorite day over there. The long drive, time to pray, think, sing. And then the fellowship that awaited me at the end of the trip- it was well worth it.

  2. I completely agree with you…we did the same for 5 years when we lived in St. Louis! We drove to a delightful LCMS church in Millstadt, Illinois, 40 minutes from our home in Affton. Good people, faithful work of the LORD and a healthy congregation who was strong in their Lutheran faith as well as heritage. I’d do it all again. (Yet, this time be a little bit thankful that there isn’t a newborn and 2 year old in the back of the car).

  3. When you find a faithful pastor and faithful members, how could you NOT? Once upon a time, we drove 65 miles rain, shine, or snow when we lived near East Glacier, MT. What a blessing, Our Redeemer LC, Columbia Falls, MT!

    As you said, “For what the Lord has to give, those minutes are actually a joy.” Amen.

  4. We drive 35 minutes to get to church – twice a week. It’s the only confessional Lutheran church (LCC) in all of New Brunswick, and only one of two in all the maritime provinces. Not too many marriage prospects for our kids!

  5. Glad you found a church that can hold a candle to Redeemer. Speaking of, why not just do the 7-hour roadtrip to the Fort every Sunday morning? It’s only, what, seven hours?

  6. Adriane,
    When, I was in St. Louis I had to drive 40 minutes to church as well. However, that had to do with the fact that it was my field work church.
    Is there really nothing for an hour and fifteen minutes from where your parents are in that part of Iowa? Is it Nebraska or Minnesota that they have drive to? (or South Dakota)
    Also, have you noticed how much of a joy that early Sunday morning drive is? I always loved that early morning 40 minute drive in St. Louis. I actually got to enjoy the drive instead of being annoyed by drivers as is the case during weekdays.

  7. Thanks for this! We travel 70 miles each way to Divine Service. It was better than deprogramming the children on the way home every Sunday.

  8. I used to live in northwestern Kansas. Any place within 90 minutes was considered local. Sometimes I would drive 20 minutes up the interstate to attend Saturday night worship when I usually just walked next door. But in the next town I got to sit in the pew for the whole service except when it was time to go to the Lord’s Table. 🙂

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