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What Would Jesus Do? No Idea. Here’s What I Did

July 16, 2021

Many people of faith pray. We ask God, whether that be Jehovah, Allah, Jesus, or The Flying Spaghetti Monster (God bless the Pastafarians) to help us make wise decisions. Help us make the decision that God would want us to make.

There’s no proof that prayer works. I understand that. I’m enough of a man of science to know that prayer will not stand up to the scientific method. But, there is also no proof that God does not exist. Whenever someone challenges my faith by reminding me that there’s zero proof, I am quick to agree with them.

I’m not interested in trying to convince anyone of the existence of God. There actually are some scientific speculation that would support the idea of a grand design architect. But, again, there is literally no proof. (For a fascinating fiction story exploring this I would recommend Calculating God, by Robert Sawyer.)

But, as a person of faith, I pray and I believe that God both hears and answers those prayers. Of course, sometimes the answer is no.

I also think at times, God doesn’t care. As I type this I’m watching the Mariners hold on to a one run lead over the Anaheim Angels. No matter how much I might pray for a Mariners win, I don’t think God cares.

I served a two year full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You would think that if God cares about anything he cares about missionaries out in his name. Sometimes. I mean, how else did I survived 12 months in South Chicago walking around with a white shirt, tie and a Bible.

But there was one experience that convinced me that while God cares. It’s often on us to make our best guess and go with it. I was in a leadership position over about a dozen other missionaries. We shuffled the players every two months. Some missionaries went to new areas and everyone got a new companion. As the Zone Leader, I had to make recommendations to the Mission President who had the final say.

Of course, I prayed about where each missionary should go. I then make my best guess and reported to the Mission President, a wonderful older man named Gene Simmons. He accepted my recommendation and I started calling around announcing new assignments. I called one elder. We’ll call him Elder Smith.

Elder Smith, this is Elder Bliss. You’re being transferred to Aurora on Thursday. You’ll be companions with Johnson.

Okay, thanks.

They were short phone calls. Then, I called Elder Fairbanks. He was new to my Zone. He’d been in the English speaking program. Our zone was ASL missionaries. Fairbanks had been an internal transfer. He was a good guy, but struggling to learn sign language. Not surprisingly.

Elder Fairbanks, this is Elder Bliss. You’re being transferred to Arlington Heights this Thursday. You’ll be companions with. . .

I can’t go to Arlington Heights.

Ah. . .okay. Why not?


I served in Arlington Heights when I was in the English program. There’s a girl there that has a major crush on me. All the elders in the English program are sworn to not tell her where I’m currently serving.


Okay. Let me call the mission president and I’ll get back to you.

I called President Simmons back.

Elder Fairbanks says he can’t go to Arlington Heights. Something about a girl that has a crush on him.

Oh, is THAT where she lives. Yeah, we can’t send him to Arlington Heights.

What if we send Smith to Arlington Heights and we’ll send Fairbanks to Aurora to be companions with Johnson?

Yeah, I think that will be a good plan.

So, I let a much relieved Elder Fairbanks know that he was headed to Aurora. I then had to call Elder Smith back.

Elder Smith, this is Elder Bliss again. I know I just told you that you were going to Aurora, but there’s an issue with Elder Fairbanks going to Arlington Heights. I just talked to President and he agrees we should send Fairbanks to Aurora and have you go to Arlington Heights in his place.


Ah. . .


Is there a problem?


Elder Bliss, am I going to Arlington Heights because that is where the Lord wants me to server, or am I only going because Elder Fairbanks can’t go?

They did not teach the answer to that question in the Missionary Training Center. It really felt like the answer should be “YES.” But, that wasn’t what Elder Smith needed to hear.

Well, Elder. I don’t know. But, maybe the Lord made it so that Fairbanks couldn’t go to Arlington Heights so that you could?

That was a lame answer. But, it helped Elder Smith to be able to look for the hand of God in his situation. Was it just because some girl fell for a missionary and I didn’t know and therefore I screwed up the first time?

I don’t know. But, I’m comfortable with my decision and my relationship with God; then and now.

Elder Fairbanks from Chico, California. Two months after he finished his missionary service he was killed in a camping accident. A rockslide killed him while he slept.

I was still a missionary at the time. It made me consider not just my service, but our role in God’s ultimate plan. Elder Fairbanks, whom I’d gotten to know for only a short time had completed not only his missionary service, but his earthly service as well.

It was a lot to think about for a young 20 year old missionary. After 35 years it still is.

Stay safe

(Oh, the Mariners held off the Angels in the 9th to win 6-5. No prayers needed.)

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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