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The Paradox of Weakness by Dan Walsh
Paradox: “…a proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.”
The apostle Paul said, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” What? Well, that’s why it’s a paradox. But in a way, I get it. I feel weak sometimes. No, I feel weak a lot.
For example: I’m beginning to write my 10th novel this week. Seven of the other nine are already published by major publishers (Revell and Guideposts). Novels eight and nine are in the pipeline, due out in 2013. In 4 years, I’ve won three ACFW Carol awards (book-of-the-year). All my novels have received rave reviews in magazines, blogs and Amazon. I’ve been asked to co-author a fiction series by a mega bestselling author (Gary Smalley). My most recent novel has been optioned by a movie producer who has made several Hallmark films (including The Christmas Shoes).
You’d think I’d feel confident inside as I set out to write a novel #10. But I don’t. I feel weak. I have doubts about whether I can do it again. What if I can’t? It’s my livelihood now. People are depending on me. What if the well runs dry? What will I do then?
Where does such weakness come from? Was something missing from my childhood? Have I experienced some traumatic things as an adult that have eroded my self-confidence? The answer to both of these questions is “yes.” But that’s not why I feel weak.
The real reason I feel weak, I believe, is a kindness from God. It’s not something I should dread but something to celebrate. God, in His mercy, has lifted the veil of false confidence and self-sufficiency to help me see my true condition before Him.
By design, we were made to walk in a dependent relationship with God. Adam’s fall created the illusion that we can make a success of things on our own. The truth is, God created us for intimate fellowship with Him. We are hard-wired for dependence.
That is why so often we feel weak. The good news is, because of Christ, the strength we lack is continuously available in abundant supply. But we won’t benefit from it if we continue to walk in the illusion of strength (or the delusion of strength). We must learn Paul’s secret and become content with this feeling. It’s the very thing that draws us to God.
Two scriptures come to mind:
“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:8-10, NLT)
“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:11-13, NLT)
How about you? Feeling weak and overwhelmed lately? Where does your heart go when you feel this way? May I suggest what Paul says here? I’ve tried to make this my habit now, and it’s made a HUGE difference in my life.
Questions for Dan:
Writing fiction is a second career for you. In hindsight, would you please share some pros and cons of becoming a published author a bit later rather than earlier in life?
I guess the first thing I should say about this is that it didn’t start out as a second career idea, more of an enjoyable pastime (the way some people enjoy painting). I actually wrote my first three published novels in my spare time while I was a pastor. This expectation seemed realistic, because I read that 95% of published authors don’t make enough to live on their writing alone. Almost all of them have a “day job.” It was a pleasant surprise when I realized I was actually making enough to retire from pastoral ministry and write fulltime. Pastoring for 25 years was beginning to take a toll on my health.
I’m not sure I’ve experienced any “cons” from starting to write late in life, but one possible benefit comes from the old saying “write what you know.” I know a lot more now and have traveled quite a bit more now, so I have a lot more things to draw from now than I did when I was young.
Whether intentional or not, do you have a reoccurring author's theme throughout your novels? If so, why aren't you able to detour away from these subjects?
|Dan's April '13 release|
And, as a companion question to the first question, after putting your novel aside for 10 years, why did you come back to writing . . . or better yet, why couldn't you stay away from the keyboard?
It really came from some strong encouragement from my wife to finish a novel she had really liked (The Unfinished Gift), now that I had more time on my hands. This “free time” was due to the fact that our children were now grown and I would no longer have to choose between spending time with them and time on a pastime that I enjoyed. Once I started writing again, it all came back to me, just like riding a bike. I still enjoy it very much, even though it’s shifted from a pastime to my livelihood. Right now, I’m working on my 10th novel.
Dan Walsh is the award-winning and bestselling author of 7 novels, published by Revell and Guideposts, including The Unfinished Gift, Remembering Christmas and The Reunion. For those who haven’t read Dan’s books, reviewers often compare them to Nicholas Sparks and Richard Paul Evans. His latest project is partnering with Gary Smalley on a 4-book fiction series. The first is called, The Dance. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Word Weavers, Dan served as a pastor for 25 years and now writes fulltime. He and his wife Cindi have been married 36 years and have 2 grown children, both married, and 1 grandson. They live in Port Orange, FL.
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3 Men Walk Into A Blog