When Jim Coons became one of the pastors at Bidwell Presbyterian Church in Chico it was the unfolding of a dream. Then came that fateful Christmas day in 2008. Not yet forty, he looked forward to a big Christmas celebration with Emily, his wife, their three kids, and a host of relatives. Suddenly Coons was faced with something that threatened to re-define his life.
"I have stage three colon cancer," he writes, "and every day as I wake up I am faced with the decision about who I will be: Jim Coons, the cancer patient, or just Jim." There are low times but "on better days I wake up with clenched teeth, a clear mind, and ready to send cancer back to hell where it came from. ... I hear the higher Voice, God's voice, reminding me that apart from cancer clinics, hospitals, blood tests, PET scans, surgeries, and chemotherapy, I am just Jim: A son, brother, husband, dad, fly-fisherman, music lover, book reader, cyclist, pastor, and child of the Living God. Cancer can't rob me of these deep truths--I won't let it. This is my line in the sand."
That's the title of his book, "A Line In the Sand" ($15 in paperback from CreateSpace), based on the entries he wrote on CarePages.com. The book chronicles the first year of his battle, and in eloquent, raw, exhausted, hopeful, tender passages Coons lays himself before the mysterious God who is with him every moment.
The author is scheduled to sign copies of his book at 7:00 p.m. this Thursday, May 9, at Lyon Books, 135 Main in downtown Chico.
"Praying the same old prayers to the same old God isn't adequate when you are told you have cancer. ... The threat of death has a way of making one's prayer life a little louder, a little more urgent, and a little more desperate. Sometimes I don't even know how to put words to my prayers because I'm so paralyzed by fear. That's when I have to remember God's words that he hears my 'groans' (Romans 8:26). ..."
Bottom line: "I am determined to keep on living even though death and sorrow knock at the door. I know they're out there. I'm just not inviting them in today."