“…Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews…” (John 19:38)
I’ve been thinking about this verse all morning. I am coming up on the anniversary of the day I received Christ as my Lord and Savior. I remember vividly that day and where I was when I decided to follow Jesus. And I remember, I did it in secret. I suppose that’s why this verse stuck out to me.
It has been twenty years, but today I was reminded of the events leading up to my conversion. I was new to Florida. I had packed up my little car and moved here to be a teacher. Florida is always looking for public school teachers. So, here I was, a twenty four year old, with nothing but what she could pack in her car. I lived with a woman my mother used to work with. I didn’t know her very well, but she invited me to stay with her. She was a single mom and didn’t have much money, but what she did have, she shared with me. And of course, she was a Christian. She was not afraid to share her beliefs and continually express my need for Christ. I had listened, but I had my own religion and I wasn’t so sure this life was best for me. But after only a few weeks, I started reading her bible while she was at work. I started with page one of Genesis and began reading. That’s how you are supposed to read a book, from beginning to end, right? So, I would read each day and remember what page I was on so she wouldn’t know I was reading it. Yes, I read her bible in secret.
After a few more weeks, I realized that I didn’t want to continue to live life without Christ. So, one day, in secret, I told Jesus I wanted Him to be Lord of my life. I wanted to live for Him and that I didn’t want to do life on my own anymore. No one knew my decision, even my roommate. It was a secret between Jesus and me. Things started to change in my life. I decided I wanted my own bible. I was anxious to go to church and learn all that I could learn about Christ. I was hungry for knowledge, so I spent many hours reading the bible. I couldn’t get enough of it. I wanted to know all that I could. Being a teacher, I believed knowledge was the key to success…or so I thought. So, in secret I gained all the knowledge I could.
Then came the day the Lord pressed on my heart to make my secret relationship with Him known. I was attending a church that extended an invitation at the end of each service. The guest pastor gave his invitation. I did not go. I couldn’t bring myself to go forward. What I had done was between me and God, in secret. I’m not sure what was holding me back. Maybe it was pride. Maybe it was fear of the unknown. Maybe it was simple ignorance. I honestly don’t know. But a few weeks after that, I made my decision to go forward. I was later baptized and moved forward in my walk. From the beginning I was intrigued by God’s word. I still love to read God’s word. But these days, I don’t keep my relationship with Jesus a secret. In fact, I tell anyone and everyone, with a listening ear, on a daily basis what Christ is doing in my heart. Each and every day, I read my bible. Each and every day I pray. My life is very different from what it was twenty years ago. I still follow Christ, only not in secret.