By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
In “Learning to Fly,” a newly published collection of essays, Rev. Tim Coker urges readers to consider that while life is rarely easy, God does not want us to suffer.
Rather, Coker believes that if we take a higher perspective and enlist God as our co-pilot, we can navigate through troubles with less turbulence and learn to love every part of the journey.
“I write about suffering, and marriage, and in some cases those two are related,” says Coker with a laugh. “I write about parenting. … What do you do when you really mess up and fail, what do you do when you’re afraid?” Coker says, noting that many of God’s simplest lessons are ones that we tend to forget and relearn repeatedly during our lives.
“There’s a chapter on forgiveness, because holding a grudge never hurts the person you’re holding it against,” Coker says. “Most of the time, he or she isn’t even aware of it, but it just eats you up! So let it go!”
Coker says that the book has more than one chapter dealing with how to gracefully recover from blunders, how to forgive ourselves and others and move forward. “I’ve had so many mess-ups in my life, I’ve got a lot of material on that subject,” he says.
Though Coker has previously published a small collection of stories centered around his love of Christmas – titled “A Walk Through Christmas – he hadn’t completed a longer form book.
As a writing project, “Learning to Fly” has been on and off the back burner for over 15 years. Coker says that he would occasionally pick up the manuscript to add something, then lose track of it for another long stretch.
Coker is a cancer survivor (he’s twice battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), and while he is now cancer-free, his experience reminded him that our time on Earth is limited and he didn’t have forever to finish his project.
“Many years ago I was in a seminar with Dr. David Jeremiah, and he said that long after people forget your sermons, if you really want to expand your ministry and help people, then put a book in their hands,” says Coker. “They can go back and refer to that book, and you never know who’s going to get their hands on it.”
He says he hopes that readers find something useful in the book, some words to bring them solace and perspective when dealing with difficulties.
“If God’s grace is real, and I believe it is, then He graces us with the ability to endure cancer and suffering, loss of our loved ones, facing death, being afraid – real life,” Coker says. “If people only read one chapter, I hope they read the first chapter, titled ‘The God Who Wants More For You.’ I think that at this point in time, people have marginalized God and think wrongly about Him. … I believe that a lot of people think God just wants more from us, but God also wants us to experience more. He’s a God of joy and He wants more for us.”
Coker will be signing copies of “Learning to Fly” from 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17, at Central Baptist Church, located at 512 Spring St. in Darlington. Copies are available at the church, and can also be ordered through online booksellers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.