If you know me at all I tend to be a little understated. But truth be known I am quite excited to launch my first book of fiction entitled ‘Unaware’ – If Only We’d Known.
Jack’s life is broken, his marriage estranged. After his failed suicide attempt and rescue by a compassionate stranger, he is forced to face up to the man he has become—a far cry from the man he wants to be. As he grapples with his own big questions, his son’s life hangs in the balance. His wife Brenda, angry and grieving, struggles to open her heart to the man who has betrayed her more times than she can count.
As Jack and Brenda’s story unfolds, five trainee guardian angels discover the tough realities of life on earth and prepare to embark on their own journey—to open people’s eyes to God’s presence and love, and his passion to rescue, redeem, and restore.
This is the story of how heaven and earth overlap. Of how God waits, patiently and earnestly, in many guises, for his sons and daughters to lift the veil of unawareness and receive his grace. Of how, out of the depths of despair, God can bring healing and hope to a couple who thought all was lost.
Interview with John Cox
What is the story of Unaware?
Unaware is the story of the relationship of an estranged couple learning to see God clearly for who He is, as five guardian angels train to understand what it is like to be human. It’s a provocative look at how they all meet up in the complexity of life.
How did you come to write this book?
I’ve been a pastor for much of my life often counselling people as they navigate life and walking alongside many with addiction issues. The perception of Church, Christianity and God is often negative and deeply distorted. God’s character is easily lost in religion and doctrinal debates. Conversely, “Unaware” focuses on God’s character that is highly relational and empathic to the human struggle. It’s a story filled with hope and encouragement in the midst of mistakes and struggles.
Is Unaware going to upset people with traditional Christian beliefs?
There are a few surprises and twists in the story that I’m sure will cause debate and disagreement. I’ve attempted to remain true to main-line Christianity while ‘imagining’ what it may be like to live in heaven. How angels may perceive life on earth and how we tackle hard questions like suffering and sickness. The imaginative nature of this story is intended to encourage discussion by exploring the grey areas between biblical teaching and the stark reality of day-to-day living. For instance, God loves everyone and He is good. But how then do we experience this biblical truth in our daily lives when the world seems so chaotic and far from Him?
Unaware has similarities to The Shack. Was that book an influence on your writing?
Not really. I began the storyline about God training guardian angels many years ago, before The Shack was published. What is common to both is the portrayal of God as three persons who have identities and personalities. Beyond that I think the stories are quite different.
Who do you hope will read Unaware?
I wrote the story for those who might have some interest in God but who are not “into church” or may have become disillusioned. Many of us have questions regarding the reality of a God who claims to love, while our lives are a constant struggle. Why God seems irrelevant – from another era. My hope is that this story will be a source of encouragement and perhaps answer personal questions that might stimulate faith and belief.
Finally, what would be a key point to ponder for a reader?
We’re living in turbulent times peppered with hostility and anger. We don’t take the time to listen with empathy or allow for differences when we disagree. Unaware highlights the love God has for all people against the backdrop of the consequences of our choices. And His patience and grace for all of us to continue learning from one another and growing together. Relationship is the foundational key to change, healing and hope. It begins with God but it must be manifest in the way we love one another, particularly in our weakness and imperfection. If that is true, then there is good reason for us to find hope for ourselves and in each other, as well as embrace a vibrant faith in God.
Against a backdrop of steep mountains cloaked in forest, the pale sky fading with the late evening sun, Jack floated aimlessly in the middle of a lake like a piece of driftwood. Along the shoreline, the maples and cedars parted where the railway carved a path high over a wooden trellis bridge. The setting should have lifted Jack’s spirits, evoking a song of praise; instead, he barely noticed—or even cared. “It’s a perfect day to get the hell out of here,” he muttered.
Below him, dark water plunged to an undefined depth. He’d purchased his blue air mattress—a cheap Walmart special—that morning. Now, as the spindly fingers of the late summer sun reached out across the lake, he knew it was time.
A hundred yards away Bill Morris reclined in his boat. His feet rested on the dash; his cap tilted over his eyes to protect against the glare of the setting sun. He loved the play of evening light on the water, the changing moods, the stillness, the silence.
Beneath the shadow of the rim of his cap, he surveyed the crinkling water extending to the far shoreline. His gaze lingered upon a solitary figure lying on what appeared to be an air mattress. “He’s got a long way to paddle if he wants to be home before dark,” Bill thought before surrendering to heavy eyelids and the languid motion of the water.
Jack felt the evening chill brush his shoulders. He wished the boat idling in the distance would take off so that he’d have the lake to himself. If I’d rolled into the water fifteen minutes ago, it would be over by now, he thought. I wouldn’t be feeling the cold or thinking anymore. No more guilt, regret, and failure; no pressure or expectations. Done.
“Welcome, good to see you. Come in, come in, please.”
The Junior Angels were ushered into a large, airy room, natural light flooding through a vaulted roof of glass. Couches and chairs framed a magnificent carpet, dyed wool, woven, blending every color on heaven and earth: the rainbow carpet.
Motioning them to be seated, God settled into an oversized, well-worn chair. Somewhere in the region of six feet in stature, he defied description, his face neither old nor young—timeless perhaps. His eyes were filled with gentle laughing smiles—and light; it was impossible to discern color. The most powerful quality was his presence—a presence that filled the room with kindness, peace, and a deep assurance of safety and acceptance. The Junior Angels already had a sense of that “presence”; they’d never known anything different. But to those in Earthtime it would have been overwhelming, in a wonderful way.
They sat silent, utterly transfixed; any initial nervousness faded as God leaned forward. “I want us to enjoy our time together, and you’re going to help me with rescue missions. From now on you will be called Guardian Angels—or, more simply, GAs. That is what you’re becoming. In Earthtime people work toward gaining a title. Here in heaven, we de-clare who you are and help you grow into that identity. Let me explain why we’re gathered in the Rainbow Room. And by the way, call me Pappa G. I prefer that name to a title.”
“John Cox has written a compelling novel that interweaves a contemporary family drama, refreshingly told bible stories, and intricate yet graspable theology. Unaware lifts the veil on certain quandaries of life, without trying to explain away all the mystery. Highly recommended.” —Lauren Bates, drama teacher
“Unaware was very moving. I unexpectedly wept several times throughout the book. The book is both raw and imaginative. John Cox’s decades of pastoral counseling shine through every page. His heart for the lost and broken is palpable. The book held my attention. I did not want to put it down. Well done.” —Ed Hird, co-author of Blue Sky
“Unaware is a heartfelt story about an estranged couple set adrift amidst life’s chaos and challenges, uncertain as to whether they will rediscover the love they once shared. It is in this place Unaware introduces a world of possibilities, where guardian angels are trained personally by God and human lives hang in the balance between despair and hope. Both imaginative and down-to-earth, Cox’s effort is worth the price of admission.” —Kyle Lynch, artist and photographer
“Drawing on John’s vast experience as a pastor and counselor, Unaware paints a captivating picture of what it looks like for people to search for truth amidst the grit of life. His fresh and engaging way of depicting the grit of this life and Jesus’ redemptive work will be a help to many in their search for truth. . . . John has given us a must-read for anyone with questions of faith.” —David Larlee, Rector, St. Bartholomew’s, East Dallas
Here’s some info.
Available on Amazon. Kindle should be available soon.
Can be ordered from most booksellers.
Wipf and Stock Publishers ( https://wipfandstock.com/9781666728934/unaware/)
If you live in Port Alberni there are limited signed copies available at Jericho Road Church Office from Tuesday, 21st September)
Thanks, hope you’ll buy a copy and tell friends. Really appreciate that. Be blessed.