I was first introduced to Greg Paul through his book 'God In The Alley.' Greg is a pastor at Sanctuary, in Toronto, a community that loves and includes the least of these.
Greg is a story teller. In "Close Enough To Hear God Breathe" Greg tells stories about God, about family, about people who live at street level, about love and brokenness. He tells stories from his life and ministry. In this book he paints a picture of God as father, and us as his children. He develops this theme by telling stories about his family and other relationships with others to show what it means to be in relationship with God and feel his love. He gently draws into understanding God as Father and not as judge. He makes the connection between his relationships and God's relationship with humanity. He does an excellent job of keeping his 'little' story, as he calls his life, in perspective with the great divine story that is God and man striving together.
"Close Enough to Hear God Breathe" is about more than life with the poor in the city. It draws us into intimacy with God, into that close place that sounds like a soft puff of air, an almost inaudible exhale or a quiet heartbeat deep in the chest cavity your head is resting on.
His stories are rooted in the theological story of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation, not in an abstract or academic sense but from the perspective of what God's desire to be close to us means in a world that is broken.
Here's a couple of excerpts:
"The Fall, and my own willful disobedience, has broken the image of my Father in me, like a mirror shattered into a thousand shards. Yet each jagged piece still in some small way reflects an aspect of his being, and he will not dispose of it. The Fall is not the utter ruin of my relationship with him, but the proof of its ultimate inviolability. He is not sweeping those shards into a duty pile to be thrown into the trash, cursing the inconvenience. He is gathering them, every sparkling sliver. Assembling them into a new mosaic of his identity uniquely reflected in mine."
'Two things are necessary for me to be able to hear someone breathing: I must be quiet and I must be close. Paul is telling me that when I learn to hear God breathing in Scripture, it will be rest to my soul. Not merely an academic exercise or a dogmatic wrangle. And I will know that God is very near, perhaps particularly when I'm stumped by a mystery I cannot penetrate. Amazingly, I find that when I listen carefully enough to the sound of that breathing in Scripture, it echoes also through the stories of my own life.'
"Close Enough to Hear God Breathe: The Great Story of Divine Intimacy" is not a how to book on how to have divine intimacy, it's the story of Greg's journey into intimacy with God along with some of the people who make up the Sanctuary community.
"Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Thomas Nelson".