My name is Laurie-Ann, and I’m a missionary. During my mission travels, I have ministered with people in Northern Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA. I’ve also ministered in African countries like Kenya, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. But at this time, we live in the beautiful Western Cape of South Africa.
During our last article, we learned about growing through humour and positivity. We learned that laughter, good clean humour and fun are good for body and soul. These help in many ways to combat disease – even serious illnesses like cancer. Laughter and humour are also gifts from God – they were given to us as gifts, although some became tainted with sin and Pharisees and some Christians alike didn’t want to touch it. It seemed sinful. But Jesus offers abundant life to those who love him and follow him. To the humble who have suffered, he offers laughter, he offers joy. Heaven is shown as a wedding feast, and that there is enjoyment in abundance. To have a taste of holy laughter is like tasting heaven.
Wisdom is also a spiritual attribute that is a taste of heaven, in fact so much so that many people desire it. This was one of my deepest desires as a baby Christian. I not only wanted to know things, just to learn, but I wanted to know how to handle situations, and just how things worked. I still desire to learn and was encouraged after Algonquin College radio broadcasting school to be a life-long learner. It has taken time for Jesus to blend my different skills and learning together. He’s taken the art and blended it into soaking prayer. He’s taken the radio broadcasting into podcasting, story-telling, devotional writing and more. And he’s taken the ministry degree with counselling into pastoral care and inner healing in unique situations that are situated outside of an office. I’m what you call a secondary counsellor rather than a therapist. But Holy Spirit’s wisdom shines through as he reminds me where to go to share some word of love or correction at just the right time. Not long ago, I attended a South African inner healing course called Touching Hearts, which was cut short by lockdown. It’s based on some of the teachings I learned from Elijah House in the 1990’s, as well as other ministries. Even though some of the teachings aren’t new, refreshing knowledge in a new way brings deeper insight. And wisdom’s insights don’t just scratch the surface. Just remember that if you’ve read the Bible cover to cover once and think you’ve read it all. No! There is more, just waiting for you when you read it again. The Bible just isn’t any book.
During our time here in Worcester, we became part of a ministry called Legacy Relay. We and others from our former retirement village community go into Worcester Primary School as Aunt Laurie-Ann and Uncle Tony. Our day was Tuesday morning with the English grade ones. We bring them music (usually children’s Christian songs), five-ten minutes of science, and then art. This starts as colouring, goes into soaking prayer and drawing their own drawings, and then learning Christian symbols so they can express themselves better. During our first school year, we had a little boy called Liam. He was one of the bright lights of the class, and was very inquisitive. He has a soft heart that easily hears Holy Spirit, and he grasps what we are teaching him – especially in art. Some of the children couldn’t understand the concept of a Christian symbol, so we taught this a few times. I was inspired to set up a 30×40 inch canvas that I divided into four. We made four groups and each had a part of creating an abstract background first in watercolour pencil, and then by turning the pencil into paint by using water and a brush. This was merely the backdrop of where the learners would place their own personal symbols on the canvas. Some of the children knew in advance what symbol they wanted to paint. Many were crosses, others were doves, hearts and hands. Some drew rockets, which I thought was interesting, until the teacher told me they were learning about space that week. Oh well. But Liam? He was told his special Christian symbol by another way.
He loved to colour or draw at my feet, and one day I sensed something from Holy Spirit for him. I called him over and told him that I believed I had a word for him from Jesus, just for him. I asked if he had been asking Jesus for wisdom. I saw an impression of him whispering in Jesus’ ear with an earnest request for wisdom. Like me, he just wanted to know and grow. When I shared this picture with him, he brightened. I also told him that Jesus will give him that wisdom, and wanted to shower love into his heart. Liam’s Christian symbol was a hug between Liam and Jesus. Of course, this wasn’t easy for a six-year-old to draw, so he drew Jesus and himself holding hands. It was so beautiful. He remembered what I told him, and when it came time to paint his symbol, this is exactly what he painted.
Asking for wisdom is biblical. King Solomon asked for wisdom to be able to govern Israel. He was granted that request and given more, since it was a worthy and unselfish request. His motives at the time were right. Solomon’s heart was right and he was answered in a vivid dream recorded in 1 Kings 3:5-14: “That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” 6 Solomon replied, “You showed great and faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued to show this great and faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne.
7 “Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. 8 And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! 9 Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”
10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. 11 So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— 12 I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! 13 And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! 14 And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.”
Solomon was humble to call himself like a child, and he asked for wisdom not for his own gain, but to use for governance. As he governed, he later become noted for his wisdom, as shown in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. These collected books show wisdom from other wise men, as well as his own. And yet, with all this wisdom, we are told in Proverbs 3:5-8 to “ Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. 7 Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.8 Then, you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.” Solomon was the wisest man in all of history, and yet his downfall was in being led astray by his many wives into other religions. He did not stay faithful to the Lord. He did not heed to the wisdom God gave him. The apostle James also spoke about wisdom. James 3:13-18 shares about two kinds of wisdom. “ Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” So James is saying that wisdom is a fruit of the Spirit, even if it’s not officially on the Galatians 5 list of the fruit of the Spirit. Wisdom is also a spiritual gift. It’s something that God gives. James 1: 5-6 share that “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.” So wisdom and direction come from God, where you must be in a position of trusting the one who gives.
Tony highly respects the gift of wisdom, which is one of the gifts he often asks me to explain. There is the gift of word of knowledge, which I am often given. I can explain things intuitively, or I get pictures like impressions on my spirit. I get inspired, and just ‘know.’ This happens when I pray for someone and I’m given direction on how to pray or what to pray about. Or I get direction on how to teach, how to draw an inspiring drawing, or what to speak about when I’m to share in a Bible study. This is Holy Spirit inspiration. The gift of wisdom goes further in direction and the practical use of the knowledge given. Wisdom is innately practical, as it is creative. It’s almost like wisdom has a personality of its own.
What is wisdom? Is wisdom just a desirable trait or something more? I went to Google and found various synonyms for wisdom, words like: “sagacity, sageness, intelligence, understanding, insight, perception, acuity, discernment, shrewdness, acumen, soundness, foresight, savvy, prudence, and advisability.” Wisdom is perceived as the “quality of having experience, knowledge and good judgement; the fact of being based on sensible or wise thinking.” [Oxford Dictionary, via Google search engine, retrieved Feb 17, 2020] Wisdom can be tied with experience. In this way, Tony was discovered and encouraged by prophet David Wagner at our 2016 Harvest School. While Tony had never before had prophetic words for others, he now could prophesy. David prophesied over Tony a blessing. He said, “do any of you need wisdom? Ask Tony.” This reminded me of me of the apostle James reminding the church to ask God for wisdom. Sometimes you pray and then ask a wise person for guidance shortly afterwards. They will often confirm what Holy Spirit is saying. I was very pleased for Tony’s accolades by David Wagner, since Tony does have this gift in how to practically flesh out Holy Spirit’s directions, whether in a stop for the one assignment, or on a long-term mission field like we have in South Africa. Wisdom is practical as it is intuitive. Proverbs 1: 21-33 share about wisdom being like a woman calling and teaching on the streets. “Wisdom shouts in the streets. She cries out in the public square.
21 She calls to the crowds along the main street, to those gathered in front of the city gate:
22 “How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge? 23 Come and listen to my counsel. I’ll share my heart with you and make you wise.” When I read this, I remember the streets of Avian Park, or any township really. And in those streets, you will find gang members sitting around the ‘gates’ of their own territory, thinking they are wise by their mocking, and being the product of dropping out of school early to instead ingest drugs and alcohol, and to commit murder for money or status in their gang. They are not wise, they are fools. Psalm 14:1 shares, “Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!” True wisdom begins with acknowledging God. Proverbs 9:10-12 share just how important that is! [The] Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment. 11 Wisdom will multiply your days and add years to your life. 12 If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit. If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer.” So wisdom adds to your health and longevity. Maybe that’s why some people associate wisdom with old age, because they have more experience. Yet you don’t have to be old to be wise! You do however have to have learned from your own experiences, as well as those of others.
Wisdom is also not locked up in one gender. It’s not a gift just given to men. Kristi Walker shares about characteristics of a wise woman, and chose to use Proverbs 31 as her source. She says that a “wise woman is a woman of godly character.” [Kristi Walker, “What are the characteristics of a wise woman” July 6, 2019 (Bible Study Tools.com) https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/what-are-the-characteristics-of-a-wise-woman.html?utm_source=jeeng]
Proverbs 31: 10–12 states: “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” “A wise woman is a woman who does not waste her time, her resources, her abilities, or her life.” [Kristi Walker] Proverbs 31:13-27 shares that the wise woman is industrious, she selects raw products like wool and flax, spins, weaves and sews. She makes useful things like bedding and linen, garments and sashes. She sells her goods, buys real estate, plants vineyards, helps the poor and needy, she teaches those in her household and well beyond. Due to the fruit of her labour, attitude and diligence, she has dignity and strength, and her husband is highly respected because of her. She is also a woman who is praised and loved, even by her husband and children. Too often we see families where the reverse happens; but the fruit of a wise woman is there for all to see, and she keeps her own praise for the Lord. Kristi Walker notes that this wisdom is practical and active, in both Proverbs 31, and Matthew 11:19, which says that “wisdom is proved right by her actions.” Wisdom is also something that can be passed on in legacy. It’s one of the reasons why we are involved in teaching and loving the grade ones in Worcester Primary every week. We are passing down gems of wisdom, whether it’s in science, worship, art, geography or about my cancer journey. We shared this week about what my health concerns meant, and the deepest impact was the loss of my hair. I explained how my hair was, what the cancer medication does to hair, and what my hair looks like now. Of course they were curious and got to see what was under my hat. I was prepared for the shocked whoops and giggles, although I did warn them that my new hair was very short! They now know what a cancer patient looks like, and they related their own hospital stories. They learned from my story, and many of them shared their own. Proverbs 13:20 shares that if we “walk with the wise [we] become wise.” Wikihow shares a page on how to gain wisdom. It says, “Wisdom is a virtue that isn’t innate, but can only be acquired through experience. Anyone who is interested in trying new things and reflecting on the process has the ability to gain wisdom. By learning as much as you can, analyzing your experiences and putting your knowledge to the test, you can become a wiser person.” [https://www.wikihow.com/Gain-Wisdom]
Wisdom is more caught than taught; but it’s also a gift that you can develop. Wisdom is also the ability to discern the consequences of your actions. Sometimes this is developed through bad experience turned into a learning situation. Other times it’s to make that connection without having to go through that process. Or it can be to take other incidents and extrapolate them onto their personal circumstances. Tony taught three of our teen girls about consequences of certain actions and to warn them of the results. One of the girls already had a pregnancy scare, so she should have put two and two together. However, this same girl went into our bathroom and sprayed Tony’s shaving gel onto the wall and the toilet. She apparently thought that was funny. She did this before, but we didn’t know it was her. This time, we knew and called her out on it. When we confronted her, she was shocked because she didn’t believe we didn’t ask each girl if it was them, rather than her. But we knew it was her, and we knew the other girls. Tony forgave her, and we trust that she’s learned not to do this to other people. Sometimes wisdom is hard won when you are a fool. But when you genuinely seek to be wise, open your heart and ask God for it, he will generously give you the foundation of wisdom with some pearls to grow. He also gives us mentors, and situations. So grow in your garden, lots of pearls of wisdom. You may just find the pearl of great price in that garden. The one that leads many to the kingdom of God.
Lord Jesus, thank you for wisdom, the gift of wisdom, and the potential for wisdom. We ask for your intervention from our own silliness, and to make us wise in you. Please reach out to those who have been seeking you to learn and grow wise, like Liam. It was his greatest wish and still remains one of mine. Thank you for already making me wise, and yet to know there is still more to learn, so we must be teachable and humble in spirit. Thank you for these wonderful things, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
If you’d like to hear an audio version of this article, please visit the Ways to Grow in God (WTGIG) podcast page on the coppleswesterncape.ca website (under the “Listen” drop-down menu). Click here: (https://www.coppleswesterncape.ca/wtgig-podcasts.html) and scroll down to #71! If you have been blessed by this article, please let us know!
Updates: For those looking for news on my cancer journey, I was declared chemically cancer free as of February 2021, but still in post-cancer treatments (lymphedema massage, physio, medications, scans and bloodwork). Now my husband Tony has both skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma and prostate cancer). The former in treatment, the latter monitored. It’s not life threatening thank God.
Otherwise, we still have medical debt and we are working towards that with art commissions and donations. God’s peace is something that I’m clinging to as we plan our way back to Canada (we are still waiting on our South African medical visas that are already 12 weeks later than promised!) At the moment, our passports are still in the hands of Home Affairs. We had hoped to return in September 2021, but this may end up as November or even December (which is after the applied for visas would be good for). Why the delay? There have been active covid cases at Home Affairs, which caused a stoppage to the already increasing processing backlog. The visas that we applied for expire in November. We trust we will have them in enough time to ramp up our preparations to return with the help of a very capable Cape Town travel agent. Gone are the days when we would plan our own travel online (apart from booking self-catering places).
After our quarantine, we plan to stay with and care for my frail 92 year old dad. Part of us longs for Canada, but we still greatly love South Africa. We are glad that Jesus is carrying us, since we are frail. Both of us have continuing health issues, including prostate cancer, eye issues (following Tony’s retina re-attachment surgery). We have good news that Tony’s eye surgeon found the equivalent in Toronto, so he will have his eye operation, which will save us the funds we expected to pay in South Africa. Good news, indeed We are also working on care for me concerning a neck/spine issue that is causing considerable pain down my right arm. It’s become increasingly painful to type, write and draw for periods of time. So I rest more. I will have an MRI in a few days to determine the damage, which my physiotherapist is helping me work though.
Thanks for coming alongside us on our journey. Being an overcomer is truly a process. We still need help. Tony has significant medical bills as well for TB, eye surgery, the urologist (who is monitoring the prostate cancer), and I have debt as well (post cancer treatment, physiotherapy, MRI, medications). Please click here for the medical campaign page to get more info: https://www.coppleswesterncape.ca/medical-campaign.html. We are still crowdfunding to cover the post cancer treatments and Tony’s eye operations. If you feel led to contribute, please do so via our PayPal: https://www.paypal.me/WaystogrowinGod If you do, please introduce yourself and say that you read “Ways to Grow in God.” It would really bless us! If you’re led to pray instead, we welcome your prayers and please do contact us.
L-A’s colouring books: If you are in South Africa, and would like to purchase one of L-A’s colouring books, they are available at OliveTree Bookshop in Mountain Mill Shopping Centre (near Pick n Pay), Worcester, Western Cape. You can also buy them at LeRoux and Fourie Wineshop on R60 beside Cape Lime (between Nuy and Robertson) and at Slow Living Café in Worcester. Or you can order one (or more) printed for you through Takealot.com through this link:
Colouring with Jesus 2 is available here:
The books are available online, through us personally (for a short time), and through the above shops. They will also be available through Legacy Relay run by Louis and Carica Fourie. After we return to Canada, we plan to republish the devotional colouring books in English landscape format. Bless you and thank you for your support!