When I first think of origami, I picture something like a paper crane with about thirty steps. However, I have recently learned that the best origami artists are equal parts visionary artists and brilliant mathematicians. Their creations consist of hundreds of intricately planned and then crafted folds and tucks, and the end results are incredible. They create gradual curves, layered wrinkles, and fine details that mimic the beauty of nature. In fact, the origins of origami exist within creation itself, where God has planned careful fold patterns for leaves and petals inside of buds. He has created insects whose wings precisely fold and tuck beneath their protective shells. Recently, as I have wrestled through some difficult questions, I have found great comfort in God’s precise planning and careful attention to every aspect of his creation—to the origami of each life.
Because we have God’s promises to cling to as we are folded and formed, creased and tucked throughout this life, we have unshakable hope in the midst of our questions and struggles. Before you or I breathed our first breath, when we were yet unformed, our Heavenly Father had personally determined every one of our days. Psalm 139:16 makes this clear saying, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” What profound hope these words breathe into my soul! Every one of my days has been formed for me.
In this verse, I see three roots of hope to serve as anchors for our souls. First, this promise of hope is grace-saturated. Every time I read the phrase “O LORD my God” in the Psalms, and it occurs so very often, I find my heart humbled anew before the throne of grace. The LORD God, Jehovah, I AM who I AM has allowed me to know him, love him, and call him my God. The LORD’s eyes—the eyes of the creator and sustainer of the universe—see us, care about our lives, and have formed a personal plan for our good. God knows what he is about, and as we live through the individual, linear, sequential process of his folding work, he holds the ultimate vision of the masterpiece he is creating. Every fold is personal; his fingertips crease each one.
Secondly, our hope is all-encompassing. God has a purpose and plan for every single one of our days. Not one day catches him off guard; not one day is unimportant. Holy God has seen your life, studied it from start to finish, and planned and formed each of its intricacies. His thoughts about you outnumber the grains of sand! (See Psalm 139: 17-18) Each and every fold contributes meaningfully to the whole of who we are created and called to be. Each one brings you closer to his vision of a masterpiece.
Finally, the phrase “for me” holds a third aspect of our unshakable hope. God is working for our good. The promise of Romans 8:28 is one that every Christian clings to, especially in the midst of difficult trials. We find our hope renewed and our strength revived as we grip tightly the promise that, “…for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” The problem arises when we think we are in charge of defining good. Thankfully, God has also given us Romans 8:29. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” Good is being conformed to the image of Jesus. All things, including the hardest things, are covered with the good promise that God is working to conform every believer into the image of his Son, and that as he works, we absolutely covered in his love. “Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (see Romans 8:31-39). He is good. He is love. We are his.
Vincent Floderer is an origami artist who has taken his art form to an entirely new level. Like other origami masters, his work is precise, careful, and persistent. Unlike other masters, his finished work is almost indiscernible from its counterpart in nature. The difference resides in his technique. Floderer crumples and stretches the paper. He gets it wet, then crushes it, and stretches it more. The crushing and stretching, this process could seem to destroy the paper, actually allows the paper to conform to the image of the real thing. This holy work of being conformed to the image of Christ is often crushing, stretching, and does not seem to fit our definition of good; but in all crushings, questions, and trials we cling to the hope of God’s promise that in all things he is accomplishing the good work of conforming us to the image of Jesus. In all things we can depend on his love and on his presence.
In Christ we have peace; in Christ we stand in grace; in Christ we rejoice in hope; in Christ our hope will not be disappointed (see Romans 5:1-5). We will see Jesus face to face, and the light of his perfect love will forever banish the painful shadows of this world. So when we take the advice of Corrie ten Boom to “hold everything in [our] hands lightly,” our grip is freed to cling to Jesus. I did not come out of this time of wrestling with an answer to my questions. In fact, by God’s grace, I came away with something even better, for I found my eyes more clearly fixed on Christ, my heart tuned more closely to his own. My wrestling ceased in worship.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9
Heavenly Father, you are such a patiently persistent creator. Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for loving each of us enough to make us into a new creation, and thank you for your grace to continue this good work in the face of our stubbornness and even rebellion. Today, would you reveal, through your Spirit at work in us, the places where we are resisting your work, the places where we are striving to create ourselves? As you conform each of us to the image of your Son, will you fix our minds, hearts, and spirits on him? Teach us to bring our questions, our trials, our pain to your throne of grace, and teach us to hear your heartbeat in that tender place, to trust your heart in our brokenness. We cling to you, our Hope and Redeemer. We love you, and it is in Jesus’ name we pray.