Book Review: "Noticing God" By Richard Peace
As a writer, I appreciate people who begin with the simple and move into the complex. They present ideas and insights, and yet never fully convey that they have all the answers. They admit their faults, struggles, and they are fully in support of God's mystery as a reality to be accepted and explored through prayer. Richard Peace in "Noticing God" (IVP, 2012. 189 pages w/study guide) follows that exact formula.
What I appreciate most about this book is that it is a "book in time" for me. It comes in a time in ministry where I am presented on a regular basis with the question "How do I hear God?" or "Where is God in the midst of _______?" Peace's book presents several fronts on which we can practice the simple art of "noticing" God. We can tune our senses to see Him in a variety of locations, and the support for this habit comes from long-standing classics such as Brother Lawrence's Practicing the Presence of God in which every space of life is a "thin place" where heaven and the mortal world intermingle.
The opening chapters are thick and rich and holy, presenting seven major areas in which we may "notice" God: mystical encounters, God in the ordinary, the still small voice. the power of community, the written word, creation/culture/creativity, and last but not least the church.
The first 6 sections are well worth the cost of the book. His insights into reading Scripture, while somewhat flawed because of a lack of discussion on reading Scripture in its original context, are engaging and reminded me of the passion I must bring to reading the Bible. The section on creation/culture/creativity showed the intersection between the God who created people to be creative people and the cultural implications arising from the creative intersection. He says,
The gift of creation bears the marks of the giver. The beauty we see in the created world is not God, but as the medieval world knew, 'beauty is a transcendental form of Gods's presence therefore...experience of beauty can be understood, by analogy, as experiences of God. (104)
The final chapter on "Church" is interesting as it is notoriously difficult to talk about the standard spiritual practices - which tend to focus inward on the individual - in a community setting that focuses on "the us." Peace distinguishes between spiritual disciplines such as meditation, fasting, and spiritual autobiography which are more individualistic and spiritual practices such as truth-telling, hospitality, and service which are done in the context of community. Due to my increased attention to the balance of the formissional life, I find the distinction helpful and will hopefully build on Dr. Peace's thinking in the future.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who is attempting to drill down deeper into their ways of relating to God into a constant, conscious, intentional way of seeing Him and noticing Him everywhere. Take advantage of this resource as soon as possible.
My thanks to Adrianne Wright and the staff at InterVarsity Press for the opportunity to read and review this work.