More California events.
There was also a very nice girl in our class: slim, shy, tall and blond. I asked her if she’d like to go for a motorcycle ride and found she knew how to ride—she didn’t try to steer me as we went around the corners.
We became good friends–some thought us boyfriend and girlfriend as we were pretty much inseparable, but it was more a pure and positive friendship.
Although she never told me, from different clues I gathered that she had been taken advantage of by someone on the reservation where she taught and was suffering from the pain of it. Our positive, Christ-centered friendship seemed to be healing to her. It was also good for me to have such a healthy relationship after living in the Eskimo culture where I had no interaction with women my age the last nine months.
On most days after class we would hop on my motorcycle and go to the beach. One weekend we took a trip to Tijuana, Mexico and had a close call on the way.
It started to rain shortly after we got on the freeway, an unusual event in LA in the summer. I was driving in the left lane and wanted to pull off so we could put our ponchos on. There was a wide shoulder between my lane and the guard rail, so I leaned left to get up on it, not realizing there was quite a high curb. By the Lord’s grace when I hit the curb we didn’t fall over in front of the traffic behind us. Instead we bounced up in the air and landed safely on the shoulder. I was very, very thankful.
When we arrived at the border, we parked my motorcycle on the US side and walked through the border check. As we crossed the bridge into the city, we were met by a wizened little man. Rubbing his hands together he squinted at us, looking us up and down.
“Come for an abortion?” he asked.
“No,” we answered.
“Come to get married?”
“Come for some drugs?”
“Then why’d you come?” he asked in amazement. We were just as amazed at his questions and attitude.
Later we were approached by a woman carrying a baby which she held out to us. She spoke only Spanish, so I couldn’t tell what she was saying, but it looked to me like she wanted to sell her baby. Later I realized that she was begging, using the baby as bait. Another world.
My blond friend and I also had an interesting accident on Hollywood Boulevard late one afternoon. As we approached a stop light on my motorcycle, an old set of trolley tracks on the street veered to the left. The front tire of my cycle dropped into the groove and we both went right over the handlebars.
I landed first on my head, then came down on my hands and knees. My friend landed astride my back, holding a can of oil we had just bought in one hand and her camera in the other!
All the traffic stopped and as we got up people called to us asking if we were ok. Other than ripping the knees of my jeans and skinning my hands a bit, we were fine. Good thing I had a helmet on or my head would have had a different shape! Another God sighting!
Our classes were helpful, giving a lot of new ideas for teaching English as a second language in a multiclass, village situation. In one way, I was sorry to have the experience end, but at the same time was looking forward to making a quick trip to Connecticut before going back to Alaska for my second year of teaching.
However, there was one more important event the Lord had in store for me here in L.A. In fact, it was the most important aspect of the summer.
Jewell and her husband invited me to go with them to a course on Christian living, and I invited my blond friend to come, too.
This event was Bill Gotthard’s first experiment with larger Basic Youth Conflicts Seminars, having seventy-five attenders. It was very personal with chances to chat with Bill in between sessions. He gave us more information than he did in his later much bigger seminars, often attended by crowds of 3,000 to 5,000 or more.
In this seminar, the Lord brought two significant things to my attention. First was Bill’s high regard for Scripture. He took what it said very seriously; he didn’t try to explain away things that were difficult or uncomfortable or out of our culture. Instead he explained how to live them.
I had always been told WHAT to do as a believer, but no one had really explained HOW to do these things, such as how to ask forgiveness, how to resolve conflict, how to turn humiliation into humility, how to deal with anger, jealousy and depression. I was hungry for this kind of input.
The second and greater gift was Bill’s teaching on meditation. This has turned out to be the most powerful and prolific source of spiritual growth in my life. The Lord has used it to equip me for ministry, give wisdom for living, free me from depression, from self-pity and from natural thinking.
The Lord has used meditation to bring continual, powerful, fundamental transformation, bringing freedom from one trap after another. It has and continues to be a rich spring of blessing and growth.
Bill’s description of meditation was preceded by the promise of what it would bring. He spoke from Psalm 1:2-3 which says, “Blessed is the man” whose “delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”
Bill said, “We could title this passage, ‘God’s way for success.’ Meditation is the way to get our roots down deep into the water of God’s Word. This allows us to bear fruit, stay fresh and grow strong spiritually no matter what our circumstances may be, and in the end be successful as God defines it.”
Bill gave examples from his own life, beginning with his being a poor student until he started meditating, which led him to became an A student.
“Meditation,” he explained, “is cooperating with God in the transformation of our souls. The soul is made up of our mind, our will and our emotions. When we memorize a passage, we learn to think God’s thoughts after him. This is cooperating with the Spirit in the transformation of our mind.
“Then as we personalize the passage—putting in personal pronouns where we can–we cooperate with the Spirit in the transformation of our emotions.
“Finally as we pray through the passage, asking God to make it true in our lives, we are cooperating with the Spirit in the transformation of our will.”
He gave us an example of how to do this using Psalm 1: “Lord, I want to delight in your word, to be one who loves and cherishes it. Give me such a love. I want to be a person who meditates on your word day and night. Help me to memorize it well and to follow through on meditation.
“Make me like a tree planted by the rivers of waters, getting my roots down deep into the water of your word. Bring forth my fruit in its season—whatever fruit you think I need for those around me, Lord, may it come.
“Keep me green and fresh, strong and fruitful in all circum-stances, in good times and dry times. And make me to prosper in what-ever I do.”
Bill gave us a list of ten different chapters to memorize and meditate on, giving each one a title.
Psalm 1 God’s way to success
Hebrews 12:1-17 Why difficulties come, what to do with them.
James 1 Benefiting from trials
Matthew 5-7 God’s Values
Romans 8 Victory in life
Romans 12 Guidance
Psalm 23 The all purpose passage
Psalm 37:1-28 Dealing with conflicts
Psalm 34 Purpose in life
Psalm 62 True rest in life
He offered us some books as a reward if we would memorize them, but the desire for growth with Jesus was much more of a motive for me! I immediately began the practice which I kept up all my life, and I’m very thankful for it.
Picture: Los Angeles smog when I was there.