Posted by: Kara Luker | February 25, 2020

Origami & the Holy Spirit

Last week, John brought a hand-me-down origami kit home from work. It had been opened but apart from a few strategically creased squares of specialty paper from an abandoned project, it looked pretty much untouched. Chase was thrilled by all the possibilities presented in the kit… fanciful animals, colorful flowers, geometric shapes. And despite my general ineptitude at following instructions, so was I. 


We flipped to the dolphin page – a good place to start, we figured – and picked a blue square of paper that looked like water swirled with reflected light. Beginning with step one, we followed the instructions, carefully folding, creasing well, unfolding, flipping over, lining up corners and the like. We did smashingly well…. for a whole 3 steps or so. And then it just didn’t make sense anymore. The words were in English and there was even a picture to accompany them, but I just couldn’t make the paper do what it was supposed to. So, drawing upon my resourceful nature, I came up with a brilliant idea. I would simply ignore the gibberish disguised as instructions and focus instead on the picture, doing my best to make our shape resemble it. This felt like divine inspiration… until step 4, which could not be accomplished after the improvised methods I’d devised for step 3. Apparently origami has a specific order to things, like baking. This is why I don’t bake.

Fortunately, John was on hand. He is the logical half of our partnership, capable of heroic tasks like managing multi-million dollar projects and putting together Ikea furniture. With his linear thinking abilities and perseverance, I was sure we would be well on our way to paper dolphin glory. But after reading and rereading the instructions, then unfolding everything and starting from scratch, even he was stumped.

After realizing that we may have chosen a particularly hard one, I picked another and launched into it with the same wholehearted vigor. This time, the fourth step was my undoing. It was something about swinging the bottom point on the underside of the figure up, rotating it 90 degrees to the left and folding the figure in half by bringing the bottom section up behind the figure. Is this even English? The picture that went along with this collection of words was equally incoherent. No wonder this failure-inducing craft had been rejected by John’s workplace.

Chase and John moved onto more fruitful tasks and I was about to retire our newfound hobby, but I was really bummed about it, having really wanting to successfully create at least one of the beautiful origami shapes pictured in the book. Then I remembered the included DVD that initially seemed like an unnecessary hassle. I grabbed it and sat on the guest room floor with a small piece of specialty paper, determination and remote in hand. The same instructions were given, except this time instead of being accompanied by a 2D drawing with dotted lines and confusing arrows, there was an actual person leading me through each step, bringing them to life – showing me how to do it. Such a simple process, it was hard to imagine how daunting it had once seemed. Just a few minutes later, I was living and breathing paper dolphin glory. You would have thought I had invented a life-saving device by my enthusiastic cheers as I ran to show Chase and John. Chase quickly joined me (and the DVD) to make the butterfly. I don’t mean to brag, but it is beautiful. The sea turtle is up next and I’m pretty confident, with our new resource in hand, we can make it happen.



The Lord showed me something through this. His Word paints a picture of His beautiful heart and all the ways our lives can be shaped by it. We are eager to see this transformation, so we do our best to follow His instructions to accomplish it. But at times, what we see in our lives doesn’t line up with what we see in the “manual.” Things just don’t make sense. We get tangled up and confused or discouraged and frustrated. Maybe we keep repeating the same thing – folding, unfolding, starting over – hoping the results will be different. Or maybe we pick a different area of our lives to work on, only to run into the same problems. If we don’t give up, we might be tempted to improvise the steps we don’t grasp, trying to bend, fold and crease ourselves into appearing like we are loving or joyful or free and hope it’s enough to carry us to the next step. But like I experienced, it won’t be. Because God has so much more: The glory of who we were meant to be. This requires one step built upon another, ordered according to His perfect wisdom.

So how do we bridge this gap between God’s vision of us laid out in the Bible and our inability to get there? It is through the Holy Spirit, the “Helper” Jesus sent. Jesus actually said it was better that He left so the Holy Spirit could come. Why? Because the Holy Spirit would be the indwelling presence of God in us, illuminating His instructions, one by one, until we are formed into the very shape we have yearned to be. He doesn’t lead impersonally like my origami DVD – a one-size-fits-all approach – but by entering our tangled mess with us and with an intimate awareness of where our structure stands strong and where it has been improvised or compromised. We don’t need to worry about figuring out those details though because He will lead us; we only need to trust and follow. We will find that what seemed so daunting, complicated or downright impossible becomes as simple and joyful as sheep following a shepherd. We will want to jump in again and again, partnering with Him in this miraculous shaping of our lives, trusting that He will never leave our side until we are walking in the full glory of what we were created for. 

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:6

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27



  1. ❤️

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