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If you have raced with foot-runners and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses?  And if in a safe land you fall down, how will you fare in the thickets of the Jordan? (Jeremiah 12:5 NRSV)

When the prophet Jeremiah lodged his complaint to YHWH about the precarious position of his people, his lament did not garner him words of consolation. Instead God warned Jeremiah that if he thought things were difficult now, how could he expect to survive what was to come? His move toward the thickets of the Jordan meant the end of his time in the relative safety of Judah. Exile would come to him and his people. 

Northwest Huntsville, AL is not Israel; African Americans are not Israelites. But Esau McCaulley also remembered crying out to God about the struggles of his people. He recalled lamenting the ever increasing dangers of being poor, black, and southern.

Escape from poverty, however, did not mean an escape from danger.

Little did Esau know that university, seminary, doctoral studies at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, and work as a professor in a world very different from the one he knew as a youth would only increase the feeling of living in the hinterlands between exile and home. Although, he is happily settled at Wheaton College as an assistant professor of New Testament, the call for faithfulness in new places remains the same.

Until the Messiah remakes all things at His advent, God’s word to the exiles in Jeremiah’s day remains relevant. “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce….Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare (Jeremiah 29:5–7).”