Before Stephen Jones became a religion teacher, he became an entertainer, speaker, and actor. He is featured in our new video series, Hope Works, as one of six presenters who share interesting insights about hope and faith and how it works in their lives. We asked him to share his thoughts on the role faith plays in our daily and long-term decisions.
How does having a relationship with God sustain you through challenging times, like those you described in your presentation?
The strength of our relationship is completely up to me. There has never been a time that I have done what He says and have been left hanging. I believe God really knows us well and we are continuing to get to know Him better. The more I understand and know Him, the more I trust Him. He already knows me perfectly. He doesn't change, but I increase in my ability to trust by choosing to do the things he suggests.
How did “acting” on decisions help you discover God’s plan for you?
I'm still trying to figure out God's plan for me. One thing I've learned can be summed up in a phrase I've come up with: “You don't know until you go.” Life is all about trial and error. In order for anything to happen, you have to do something. We try on clothes and try new food all the time, but for some reason when it comes to having the faith to follow God’s guidance, we ask so many questions. Sometimes we don't do or try. It's as simple as trying on a new pair of jeans. Even if they look like they fit, you still have to put them on to know for sure. If they don't fit, it's not the end of the world; just try on a new pair until you find a pair that fits.
Why do you think God sometimes allows us to search for clear answers or paths?
I believe that God really cares a lot about his children's ability to choose for themselves. If there were a hierarchy of gospel principles, I'd say agency trumps the rest. He wants us to know that the decisions we make are ours. In this particular experience, if things had happened right away, I believe I could have potentially tried to blame any future negative circumstances and experiences on God. I might think, “You made me do this.” He allowed me to see clearly that this was my decision, but without out a doubt it was He who helped me get there. This also increased my ability to understand how to make decisions in the future.
What could someone do today that will matter in 1,000 years?
Be honest with yourself about who you are today and every day. God made you the way you are for a reason and gave you the gifts you have on purpose. If we were all the same we wouldn't be able to serve each other. What will matter most in 1,000 years will be who you become, and if it is who God intended you to become.