Soon after Holly and I had gotten married we moved into a really cool house. It was in an up and coming neighborhood on the West side of Atlanta, called Whittier Mill. From the name you can tell it used to be a mill community, and the houses (which will all built around 1896) that people now live in used to house mill workers. It was a fun place to live. In this house we had a spiral staircase which went up to a loft that overlooked our family room.  Our desk and library was in the loft, so as you can imagine, I was up there a lot.  Most of you know we have a dog, little Calvin was just a few years old at the time. If I did not take him up there with me, he would sit at the bottom of the spiral staircase and whine until I came back to get him, because the stairs were too slippery for his paws.   So every time I went up the spiral stairs I carried Calvin up with me. Now just as I carried him up, every time I came down the stairs, I would have to pick Calvin up and carry him down too.  But when were up in the loft getting ready to come down, I’d reach out to pick him up, and Calvin always squirmed, stiffened up, and tried to get out of my hands because he was afraid of the height.  I would try my best to comfort Calvin during his squirming by saying “I got you, don’t worry.” But regardless of how strong I’d try to encourage him, he fought me the whole way down.

After Calvin did this many, many times God began to show my own foolishness to me. You see, I am too much like my dog and so are you.  When God purposefully puts us in places and situations that are uncomfortable, we squirm, we fight, and we seek to get ourselves into a more comfortable position. You know what’s great about our text today? As I sought to comfort Calvin by telling Him everything would be ok, our passage in James today is God’s encouragement to those who are in a similarly uncomfortable position in life. This text is a massive encouragement. I hope you feel it. All of us in this room bring baggage into this room. Some of us bring neatly packed baggage that’s easy to carry and doesn’t take up much room, while others of us bring in suitcases that are so full they can’t close, so heavy no luggage cart could bear the weight, and so large that it takes up a ridiculous amount of space in and around the aisles. As we enter our text today, be prepared, God is about to deal with some of our baggage.

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