I was in a bit of a quandary. My son had given me a book to read and it raised questions that I couldn’t quite answer. The book was titled Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I really hadn’t spent much time reading religious books and this one presented some challenging issues. Yeah, I’d been in a small group a few years earlier. It was fine, but we studied books of the Bible using study guides that all too often asked questions like: “Why did Jesus get into the boat?” OK, I’m being a bit facetious, but the answers weren’t hard. Crazy Love asked difficult questions like: “It confuses us when loving God is hard. Shouldn’t it be easy to love a God so wonderful?” Or, when God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we expect: “Could it be your arrogance that makes you think God owes you an explanation?” Umm.
Where could I go to get answers? I didn’t belong to a small group anymore.
I reached out to some friends I knew at church and asked them if they’d be interested in getting together to read this book my son had given me. About five guys said they’d be up for it so we gathered on a Wednesday night downstairs at church and dug in. Over the course of several months together we answered many of our questions, raised some new ones, and tried to answer them too. It was helpful. It was satisfying. It was educational. In fact, it was actually fun.
That was nine books ago.
In retrospect, what’s been so amazing about this group is how God has formed and molded it. Over the years that we’ve been together, we’ve had a few people leave but even more have joined. Most of the new members were people I’d never met and it’s uncanny how God has a knack for sending us just the right people at just the right time. It’s like God has all of the odd shaped pieces and he knows just how to fit them together to complete the puzzle.
I found that what I got myself into was a fascinating and enlightening experience. On any given Wednesday night we may spend 90 minutes talking about the book we’re reading or 90 minutes discussing a problem or concern that one of us is facing. We may even spend 30 minutes quoting lines from Mel Brooks’ movies. We listen to each other. We support each other. We pray for each other. For me, the result is a close kinship that has given me the opportunity to share my thoughts and doubts about my faith in a way that ultimately has helped my faith mature and, hopefully, blossom. I didn’t know a small group could accomplish all of that and build friendships along the way.
It certainly wasn’t what I expected when I started, but I think it was what God had in mind all along. In fact, I’m glad He thought of the idea of forming this small group! It’s something that I look forward to every week. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
By the way, Crazy Love is a great book to read if you’re starting a small group or if you’re looking for some variety in your study material. It does pose some challenging questions, but it’s a great read and offers valuable perspectives on our relationship with God.
Saratoga Federated Church
20390 Park Place
Saratoga, CA 95070
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