I was sitting at my desk and starting to feel overwhelmed.
It was Monday morning, and everything seemed to be going wrong. Email prayer prompts for the members of our mission team were supposed to be sent out that morning, but the document from which I pull them, and that I spent a painstakingly long time putting together, had disappeared from my computer. I had just transferred items that were not completed from last week’s to-do list to this week’s to-do list when a co-worker appeared at my door. She wanted to talk about something personal and began with, “I know you’re busy, but…” I was also waiting for a family member to send her dissertation for proofing, which I already knew would need to be done quickly. Then I received an email from a photo company for a free photo book and that would make a great gift for my parents’ upcoming wedding anniversary, but the coupon would expire at the end of the week, and I tried to think about when I could squeeze in time to make a 20-page photo book.
And, to top it all off, I tore my cornea last night taking out my contacts, so my right eye has watered incessantly since 9:47 last night.
Everyone thought I was crying, though it was really the fact that one eye wouldn’t stop running due to the abrasion.
Suddenly, the time with the Lord I had five hours earlier that focused on grace and peace being mine in Christ Jesus faded. Moreover, the Bible study I had yesterday with my friend Erin about abiding in Christ and perfect love casting out fear seemed far away.
Your circumstances might be different, but you can probably relate.
Often we can feel overwhelmed by the situations we have in life. Whether related to our families, finances, world events, work, or a host of other things, life can be overwhelming.
But, as much as we would think, “This is just life and the way it is,” it really is not the way God intended.
Though we don’t know the circumstances that led David to write Psalm 16, his story begins in a humble setting. The shepherd boy who was looked down upon by his older brothers slew a formidable giant named Goliath with five smooth stones. Later, after he was anointed King of Israel, he was hotly pursued by a madman, his father-in-law and current King of Israel. Once he became king, civil wars erupted both in the kingdom and in his family. Then David had an adulterous affair, which resulted in murder and the loss of a child. As if this weren’t enough, one of David’s sons raped his own sister, and another son avenged the rape by murdering their brother. The same son is killed while attempting to depose his father, David, as king.
And, I am worried I’m not going to get a photo book finished by Friday.
However, Psalm 16 teaches us why David’s circumstances did not overwhelm him. Throughout the stories of David’s life in 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 Kings, we see a man who shed tears, endured grief, engaged in sin and responded in repentance when called out boldly for it. I think David’s ability to be in the presence of the Lord is the key to his not being overwhelmed.
David wrote, “Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You” (Psalm 16:1). As king, David would have been well-acquainted with battle. A refuge of a fort is where one goes to take cover in order to be shielded from enemy arrows and other things outside the walls of the fort. In this verse David is saying the Lord Himself is his refuge – his protector from the things going on beyond the walls. When life seems to close in on us, we need to take refuge in our Lord God. David took refuge in the Lord, but did the battle stop? No, the battle didn’t cease, but David sought security in the presence of the Lord. Likewise, in our own situations today, the Lord can be our refuge, if we turn to Him. It doesn’t mean our problems will disappear, but it does mean we can rest in the presence of our Heavenly Father.
Psalm 16:11 is the focal verse for the 2016 NC Baptist Women’s Retreat the weekend of October 28-29. In Psalm 16, David recounts all of the things taking place around him. Yet, it is in Psalm 16:11 he declares to the Lord, “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” David, amid all the trials and tribulations of life, knew being overwhelmed with the presence of the Lord was “fullness of joy.” He ran hard after his Lord, seeking His presence, His counsel and His delight.
The late former missionary and author, Elisabeth Elliot, once said, “The secret is Christ in me – not a different set of circumstances.”
You might wonder what you should do to be in the presence of the Lord and what this looks like on a day-to-day basis, not just during the moments of Bible study with the Lord. This is the focus of “Overwhelmed.” Through the main plenary sessions with author Carolyn McCulley, and breakout sessions drawn from the 11 verses of Psalm 16, our heart and desire is for each woman to leave the retreat overwhelmed by the presence of the Lord – not just during the two-day retreat. No, we want you to be overwhelmed by the presence of the Lord on a daily basis.
Whether your situation is similar to King David’s, or similar to mine with a growing to-do list, the Lord tells each of us “in [His] presence there is fullness of joy…”
For more information or registration for the 2016 NC Baptist Women’s Retreat, please visit ncbaptist.org/womensretreat16.