Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

At last night's Big Book study, we were reading the chapter titled "Into Action."

Laura, who is the senior member of our line of sponsorship, stopped the reader at the line on page 76: "Faith without works is dead."

"What does that mean to you?" she asked.

Many people talked about taking action, doing the next right thing, going to meetings, praying on their knees. The actions we are taught to take in recovery.

The way I've always understood the phrase is service. That we can't keep what we have unless we give it away.

"To me, this phrase is all about God and the rowboat," Laura said.

She imagined her life as rowing her way along in a rowboat, with God in the back guiding her. Sometimes the waters were smooth, sometimes they were choppy. Through it all she rowed. God was always there to tell her which way to turn.

Sometimes she asked God if she could steer.

"He's always willing to let me steer," she said. "But he never rows the boat. If I drop the oars, I'm dead in the water."

We have to keep rowing the boat, she said. If we're not sure what to do, we should do whatever is in front of us.

Laura talked about a woman who used to say that if the phone didn't ring, she'd make the bed, because that's what was in front of her. And if the phone still didn't ring, she'd take a shower. Then go to work. She'd just keep doing the next thing that was in front of her to do until God put something else in her path.

"If I keep taking the next right action, the path will be clear," Laura said. "I just have to keep taking action."

That's why she thought the title of the chapter was perfect, "Into Action." Because our recovery is all about the actions we take.

I couldn't help but remember what a friend who first introduced me to Al-Anon used to say: If you pray to God that you need a hole in the ground, you better bring along a shovel.


  1. Great, just great. We've always got to do our part. Without God, man cannot, but without man, God will not. Thanks for the great post!

  2. Wonderful stuff here! Thank you so much for sharing!! Loved it.

  3. Yes, in a way you have to be careful what you pray for, 'cause you might just get it. Reminds me of the story of Moses, who stood before the Red sea. The people were panicking because the soldiers were coming closer, catching up with them. Moses, said "Don't worry, God won't let us down" and sat down to wait. God spoke (angrily? sharply? That's how I imagine it) and said "Stand up and raise your staff" and once he did, the sea parted. The moral of that little story is that unless we take the initiative, God has nothing to bless, so we have to take action and receive God's blessing.

  4. I guess a little part inside of me knows this, and that is why I keep going. Doing what I need to do, so that God can do the rest.

  5. I love the row boat analogy. And I smiled at "If you pray to God that you need a hole in the ground, you better bring along a shovel."

    Keep pressing on.

  6. this is awesome...love that last line...

  7. What a great post. Laura's story/analogy of the rowboat is awesome - very precise - I like thinking like that.
    Thanks :)
    God bless.

  8. I really like the rowboat analogy too. I wrote about that several months ago in a blog. I find that Al-Anon is like a row boat that helps me get through the turbulent waters.

  9. I love your post because it always give us something to think about!