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If your life could be summarised on the epithet of a tombstone, what would you like it to say?

I can imagine that for some it may read “Highly influential”; for others it may read “Led many to the LORD”. Would you be happy if it simply read “A man after God’s own heart”? This humble title may not be good enough for some of us, but God deemed it good enough for Israel’s greatest leader, King David. King David was a man who was characterised by his intimacy with God and this, above all other traits, was the key to his strength.

Persecuted brothers and sisters are willing to suffer, not only for a proposition or a principle but the person of Jesus Christ; that is, our faith is essentially relational not propositional. Jesus did not say in John 14:6 “That is the truth”. Rather, he said “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

The Bible’s definition of eternal life is essentially relational. John 17:3 states, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (NKJV). Similarly, Jesus’ greatest indictment against the unrighteousness is not primarily on the basis of knowledge but on the basis of intimacy. Matthew 7:23 states “…I never knew you”. Boiling the Christian life to its basics reveals that it is intensely relational.

J.I. Packer in his book, Knowing God, says it beautifully: “What makes life worthwhile is having a big enough objective, something which catches our imagination and lays hold of our allegiance, and this the Christian has in a way that no other person has. For what higher, more exalted, and more compelling goal can there be than to know God?”

I want to give an example of a courageous Christian who exemplifies this. Nigeria is the 12th most dangerous country in the world to be a Christian. In 2018, 90% of the deaths which occurred in the top 50 most dangerous countries to be a Christian, occurred in Nigeria.  Pastor Andimi was kidnapped by Boko Haram militants and decided to use a ransom video as a platform to praise God. He stated, “All conditions that one finds himself is in the hand of God”. “By the grace of God, I will be together with my wife and my children and all my colleagues, if the opportunity has not been granted, maybe it is the will of God.”

There is the genuine sense that Andimi trusted God, even though he was led through the valley of the shadow of death. Our God is the good shepherd and will faithfully carry us from the beginning to the end of our lives. Do you trust Him as your faithful, sovereign creator? Not one hair on your head will go white without his express permission.

This month’s challenge: Perhaps you have swerved slightly in your focus from Jesus and to the storms of life. This month reflect on what it is that you can do to cultivate an intimate relationship with God. One good way is to visit and prayerfully read the inspiring stories which are updated regularly.