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SO CLOSE, I CAN FEEL GOD’S BREATH
Dr. Beverly Rose
Salt River/Tyndale House Publishers
Memoir
ISBN-10: 1414307241
ISBN-13: 9781414307244


Dr. Beverly Rose is a Harvard-trained clinical psychologist who held a prestigious and lucrative position in a New England nursing home when her body turned against itself. “What had begun as muscle pain and fatigue had developed into a full-blown assault, affecting many vital parts of my body,” she writes. “I found myself bedridden, losing the battle to a progressive, often fatal neuromuscular disease. C.S. Lewis writes, ‘You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.’ Finding out who God really is was not just a matter of life and death for me --- it was all I had left.”

Her journey into a relationship with God is beautifully chronicled in this memoir. But the story doesn’t start when she gets sick. It begins when Rose is still a young child as her devoutly Jewish mother’s faith prepares Rose’s heart and mind to accept Christ’s love decades later. In some respects, So Close, I Can Feel God’s Breath is a Girl Meets God for the over-35 set. Weaving together insight from leading Jewish rabbis and Talmudic tradition, Rose presents the rich Jewish context in which she learned about Jesus, despised Jesus and eventually grew to love Jesus.

“Because of my Jewish mother’s valiant efforts to teach me about encounters with God, I could experience God’s breath in thin places all around me, and know that it was because I was made from his breath --- during a most amazing birth. For we are not only born from our mother’s womb. We are also born of God’s breath. It’s because of who we are --- God’s beloved children --- that we can draw near to our father in incredible places of thinness.”

This “thinness” that Rose talks about throughout the book is any place of struggle and pain. And since the onset of mitochondrial disease --- one that inhabits every cell in the body, silently damaging vital internal organs, the neuromuscular system and the digestive system while it inflicts continuous pain in every muscle --- Rose has known this thinness firsthand. She writes candidly about her physical and emotional pain, but is full of that uniquely Jewish levity and is quick to broaden her message of hope to encompass all those who have suffered.

“Just as Jesus took the worst thing that could possibly happen (death on the cross) and turned it into a victory, so can we. Some may try to deny pain, but Christians know that suffering exists as proof of our fallen state. Suffering is a fact of life, but it can be redeemed and transcended.”

Transcending suffering is easier said than done, of course. And as one might suspect, it has more to do with one’s heart and mind than, in the case of those with physical ailments, the body. But as Rose movingly writes, she is healed in moments. Completely healed --- soul and body. One of those moments was when she got up to address a large group. Her body, which had started to spasm moments before, quieted. Her legs strengthened. And she was able to stand. As she did so, she told the crowd, “I am healed in moments, and this is one of those moments. I don’t know how long it will last this time. It could last forever or not until I get off this stage. Yet what I do know for a fact is that in this moment I am healed.” And in the moments it takes to read this book, many others are sure to experience their own healing.

   --- Reviewed by Lisa Ann Cockrel

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