When my parents sent me off to public school, it did not take long to confirm that I was a very poor student. So, after a year in first grade, my teacher very thoughtfully asked me, “Billy, how would you like to be a leader in your class next year?”
That sounded like a good idea. But what she meant was that I would have to repeat first grade!! Failing first grade was only the beginning of my academic struggles. At the end of my second year in first grade, there was talk of me staying in first grade for another year. I just could not learn to read or remember what I read.
Reluctantly, I was allowed to pass on to second grade — but only on probation. The probation continued year after year until I reached eighth grade.
Then one day, my older sisters said to me (with a groan), “Next year you will be with us in high school — IF you make it; and we will become known as the sisters of a “dumb-bell!” Those words motivated me to get better grades.
During my first and second years in high school, I would regularly spend up to five and six hours a night on homework. But my grades would never get above average.
The Promise of Success
Then one day a godly woman asked me if I wanted to be successful in my life. I assured her that I really wanted that. She explained that for me to be successful, I must memorize Scripture on a regular basis. She then gave me a booklet with about twenty verses to memorize each week.
Every week she would call me and have me quote the verses to her over the phone. Then she would ask, “How will you apply them to your life?” Honestly, I had such a hard time memorizing those verses that I would go over them word by word as I went to sleep at night. Without knowing it, I had inadvertently discovered the blessings and benefits of “day and night” meditation.
This is what David spoke about in Psalm chapter one: “Blessed is the man . . . [who delights] in the law of the LORD; and in His law he meditates day and night . . . and whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3).
The Rewards of Meditation
At the next grading period, my school grades jumped to an “A” average — and with no extra time on homework!! This continued until the end of high school; I even graduated as a member of the National Honor Society and was offered a scholarship to Harvard University!
Not only did my school grades go up, but God prospered everything else that I did. I entered a Future Scientists of America contest and won a top award, plus a membership in their association. This opened up other opportunities. The same result came when I entered a book writing contest. During the years that I meditated on Scripture “day and night,” I actually felt like I had an “unfair advantage” over other people. But the times that I failed to meditate, I lost God’s marvelous blessings.
How the Basic Seminar Started
As I approached my 30th birthday, I wanted to follow the example of Jesus in having a 40-day fast. A Northwoods Lodge was made available to me for this purpose.
During those marvelous days of seeking the Lord and the treasures of His Word, I began writing out the contents of the Basic Seminar. When I returned, I received an invitation from Wheaton College to teach a summer course on youth work. They title the course, “Basic Youth Conflicts.”
Forty-six students attended the first course. They asked me to repeat it the next summer, and 120 attended. The following year a thousand students attended the seminar on various campuses. Then it grew to 10,000, to 50,000, and up to 350,000 one year. Thus far, close to 3 million have attended this 30-hour seminar. The only promotion was the word-of-mouth recommendations of those who attended the seminar.
So, God chose a very ordinary boy who had no special skills or abilities and who was not able to make good grades to demonstrate to the world what He will do through anyone who will meditate on His Word “day and night.”