Even when it seems like the items on your never ending to-do list won’t get done unless you do them yourself, Carolyn McCulley says it’s OK to say, “I can’t.”
BSC photo by Chad Austin
Carolyn McCulley challenges women “to look for how the Lord is going to meet you in that day and in that situation.”
“Guess what?” McCulley asked a gathering of several hundred women at the 2016 N.C. Baptist women’s retreat at Caraway Conference Center in late October.
“God is the only one who gets everything done on His to-do list.”
McCulley, an award-winning author and filmmaker, was the keynote speaker for this year’s women’s retreat, which was sponsored by the Embrace women’s evangelism and discipleship ministry of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
The theme was “Overwhelmed,” based on Psalm 16 and the life of King David.
“If you look at the life of David, who was the psalmist who penned this particular psalm, you might think that because he was the king, everything was easy for him,” said Ashley Allen, director of Embrace women’s ministry.
“But things were not easy in David’s life. There was quite a bit that was overwhelming in his life.”
Yet in the midst of the turmoil in his life and kingdom, David penned the words of Psalm 16:11, the theme verse for the retreat: “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 knew what it was like to sit in God’s presence even though the circumstances around them were hard and very difficult,” Allen said.
One goal of the retreat was to help attendees not to feel overwhelmed by their circumstances, but to be overwhelmed by the presence of the Lord in the midst of their circumstances. In addition to two keynote presentations by McCulley and one by Allen, attendees studied and worked through the theme passage of Scripture during breakout sessions and shared other moments of reflection during times of personal and small group devotions.
McCulley encouraged attendees by sharing examples of how she had learned to rest in God’s presence and trust His provision through difficult and challenging circumstances.
A few years ago, McCulley said that while she was grieving from the recent passing of her mother, she found herself behind in her work and behind on a book writing project.
McCulley said she was working upwards of 90 to 100 hours per week when she came across a quote from pastor and author Tim Keller about the importance of Sabbath rest.
Shortly thereafter, she started forcing herself to take a day off to rest in the Lord.
“I could say, ‘This day I take off because I know the Lord is providing for me,’” McCulley said.
Knowing that God is our provider and that He offers grace to sustain us during times of adversity are reasons why it’s OK to acknowledge our limitations in a culture that emphasizes and values high levels of capacity and productivity, McCulley said.
“If you want to know how to avoid being overwhelmed, it’s taking a moment to say, ‘Lord, what have You given to me to do today? What have You called me to do, and where are You going to meet me where I feel overwhelmed?’” McCulley said.
So when you are tempted to feel like a failure, or struggling due to pressures related to things like dealing with an overbearing boss, caring for your elderly parents, caring for a disabled child, handling your teenager’s emotions or worrying about whether or not your business is going under, McCulley said it’s OK to say, “I can’t.”
“That’s OK,” McCulley said. “Say, ‘I can’t.’
“But purpose to look for how the Lord is going to meet you in that day and in that situation.”