A Backup Plan

By Ron Graham

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” Romans 10:9-10 .


It was 1969, I was soon to turn 18 and begin my senior year in high school when one day out of the blue my mother asked me a question which, quite frankly, left me in shock. We were sitting out on the patio of our home in Chico, California, when my mom asked me, “Ronnie, do you believe in Jesus Christ?” This was a first time experience for me and I was completely unprepared. But being the smart-alecky kid I was, I firmly and resolutely replied “No”. I was in a state of rebellion. Rebellion to God? Yes. But I was also rebelling against my mother. In truth, I had rarely given Jesus Christ a second thought during those 18 years, other than to use His name as a swear word.


My mother kept a little white leather covered Bible on a nightstand next to her bed. I saw it plenty of times but I can’t remember ever picking it up and reading it. Saying yes to Jesus Christ is an individual choice we all must make and my mother knew that. She wept the day I gave her my response and through her tears she managed to say she hoped we would all be together in Heaven some day. I wrote this off as a woman’s hysterics. After all, at 18 I already had a good grasp on all knowledge, right?


Fast forward now 18 years. I’m sitting next to my mom in the hospital’s ICU and holding her hand, I had been with my mother since she had entered that hospital a few days earlier and I knew she was in severe pain. Yet in the last few minutes of her life, as we spoke my mom’s face began to glow. She smiled at me but didn’t say a word but I could tell that the horrible pain she had been enduring for the past few days was gone. Then, she just peacefully slipped away. My mother believed Jesus to be the only way to the Father. She knew the truth.


I turned 59 years old in August and my mother has been gone for 23 years. She never saw her son come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ, but she may well have been instrumental in my decision to do so.  


I had no idea of eternity or anything after death and at that time in my life I had not placed any stock in Heaven or Hell. When my mom died that day, as far as I was concerned, that was the end and there was nothing else. The response I gave my mother 18 years earlier was a lie. I did believe what I had been taught about Jesus, as far as that teaching went. But I was angry with my mom and very rebellious and so I blurted out a lie that caused her great pain on that day, and probably for the remainder of her life. We never spoke about Jesus again, at least not that I can remember, and I’m not sure she remembered that particular conversation. But I do, I’ll never forget the pain I was responsible for that day.


The question my mom asked that day was important to her. And considering the question she presented her rebellious son with that day, along with the peace I saw on her face as she lay dying, I am in hopes that I’ll soon see my mom again – this time in Heaven. She believed in Jesus Christ, she had a faith and a hope I didn’t understand. My mom never wanted for much; only that her family would all be together again. My mom was a forgiven sinner, of that I have no doubt.


Since the subject of Jesus Christ had rarely come up in the Graham household when I was growing up, in my early adult years I had absolutely no desire to pursue anything remotely close to acknowledging Jesus as Savior and Lord. I really had no idea what Jesus went through for me. But in August of 1995, just days after my birthday, Jesus came into my life big time. If my mom could have only seen that day it would have erased all the pain I had caused her.


One day while living in Oregon, and not long after my conversion, I was speaking by phone with my dad. As a new believer in Christ I had to ask him what he thought of Jesus Christ. After communicating the normal father and son pleasantries, I tuned the conversation toward Christ. It continued something like this:


“Dad, do you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God?”


And my dad answered and said “Yes”.


So now that I had begun this line of questioning it was as though the Holy Spirit was prompting me to follow through, “Ron, don’t just leave it there”. So I continued with “Yes what Dad?”


To which my dad responded “I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God”. Now I was on a roll.


“Dad” I said, “Do you believe Jesus died for you sins?” To which my dad responded again in the affirmative. So once again I felt compelled to draw him out with a complete verbal response to my question.


I said “Dad, what do you believe about Jesus Christ?”


To which my dad replied “I believe Jesus Christ died for my sins.”


Can you imagine the peace God gave me that day all because I asked my dad a few simple questions? Can you imagine the peace I have today knowing where my parents are? The conversation between my dad and I went on from there and I knew by my dad’s words that we would be united in Heaven one day soon. I received from my dad exactly what I wanted to hear. And this whole prompting was done through the will of God. So my dad, believing in his heart, could make confession with his mouth to another believer in Christ that Jesus Christ is Lord.


Now imagine, if you will, the pain I caused my mom by responding to her question with a lie? My mom carried that pain to her grave. But God spared me that pain. And as I reflect back on my mom and dad’s spoken words and by believing what the Bible tells me about how we obtain eternal security, gives me great hope of our Heavenly reunion someday. God is great!


Dad died in 1999 and he and my mom are now in Heaven. Since God hasn’t given me the insight to see into the heart of another person, I can’t be certain regarding another’s salvation. But I know what the Bible says about those who believe in their heart and confess with the mouth that God hath raised him (Jesus Christ) from the dead” (Romans 10:9-10). The word of God is what I go by for my assurance when it comes to the salvation of family members and friends.


There are many incidences that occur in our lives that cause us to ponder whether or not a person we know is truly saved. Joy and peace are ours to embrace when we learn someone close to us has embraced Christ and is now a part of His body. But it pains us to see a loved one living against God’s will. This pain comes to all of us sooner or later, and ultimately gives rise to an urgency to pray and to voice our concerns to those loved ones. We know time is their enemy and that a choice must soon be made.


But there is only one person who we are responsible for as far as our salvation is concerned. That one person is our self. My mom, even though broken hearted by my response to her that day, was not responsible for my choice. She put the question out there for me to react to, but my reaction was my own. Did my mom plant a seed that day? Of course she did.


My mom knew there had to be a choice made as far as believing in or rejecting Jesus Christ. She knew it wasn’t a family decision or a corporate decision, it is singular. I made the choice to say yes to Jesus Christ, but I couldn’t force the yes response from my dad; I couldn’t give a positive response for him, he had to make that confession on his own. My mother couldn’t force the correct response out of her rebellious 18 year old son; I had to respond to Jesus Christ in the affinitive for myself before it was too late. And I did.


Once we’ve reached that state of mind where we know beyond the shadow of a doubt that our salvation is securely in God’s hands, because we’ve said yes to Jesus Christ we can move on and promote His Gospel without hesitation, without the fear of condemnation, and especially without the burden of wondering where we will spend eternity. We know our salvation is true and secure, and as such all the excess worldly baggage is removed and we are free. Free to pursue life full of the adventure Jesus Christ has set forth for us while proclaiming the truth of His Gospel.


If you’re reading this commentary and you’re wavering between believing or rejecting Christ, or if you’ve made up your mind to fully reject Christ’s free gift of salvation and you consider this commentary foolishness, then please, just humor me as I ask you a few simple questions. What if you’re wrong about eternity? What if Heaven and Hell do exist? What is your backup plan? It’s just human nature to enlist a plan as we go forth through this life, and backup plans are also wise in case the first plan needs to be abandoned. In regards to eternity, every fence sitter, atheist, even those following false religions need a backup plan. After all, there is always the possibility you’re wrong about what you believe.


Do you really want to find out you made a mistake only after you’ve died? “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” Psalm 146:4. That’s why it’s always prudent to have a backup plan in case your first plan has no validity. Think of it this way, what have you to lose by asking Jesus into your life? What is the loss you will incur by placing your faith and trust in Jesus Christ for eternal life? Before you answer that question consider how short this life is and how long eternity is. “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14. This life is very short, like vapor – we’re here today, tomorrow we’re gone. But eternity is forever.


Now, ask yourself another question. What will you gain by placing your life in Jesus’ hands? Answer: An eternity in an awesome place that is beyond the ability for humans to even imagine. Think of the beauty in God’s creation here on earth. Now magnify that beauty a million times, and while imagining that beauty, imagine no wars, no poverty, no sickness, no death, no hatred, no lying, no murder, only love, a love we will never understand while we exist in these earthen vessels.  


Everyone who has rejected Christ as Savior and Lord should have a backup plan just in case they’ve made an incredible error. Do you need a backup plan? If so, what is it? Here’s an idea: Believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Say yes Jesus Christ and receive God’s free gift of salvation. Don’t delay any longer. Soon there will be no more time and no more chances to develop or submit a backup plan; you’ll just have to go with your wrong choice. Choose life with Christ, as I did fifteen years ago. I’ve never regretted that decision, nor will you.


God bless you all,


Ron Graham


All scripture is from the KJV and God breathed