Grace and Effort (not mutually exclusive)

Question: There were once three frogs sitting on a log. One of them made a decision to jump in the water. How many frogs were left on the log?

Answer: Three – the frog made a decision, but he took no action!

Working a program of recovery is a lot like the story of the frogs. We can make all the decisions we want, but until we take some action to get healthy, nothing will change. Steps 1 through 3 of the 12 Steps are the “made a decision” steps. We realized we were powerless, came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could help, and made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to God as we understood him. If all we do is work these three steps, we are the frog who made a decision to jump in the water, but ended up staying on the log. Steps 4 through 12 is where action really comes into play. We write down a moral inventory and share it with another person. We identify defects of character and ask God to remove them. We list people we have harmed and we make amends. And we work to maintain sobriety through prayer and meditation and working with others. We also attend meetings and make phone calls and work with therapists to dig into the causes of our behavior. This is the effort that we put forth when we work a program of recovery, and I don’t believe that we can recover without these actions.

But there is also a big part of recovery where we let go and let God, the “Power greater than ourselves,” give us gifts that we cannot get on our own. Christians call this grace. When we let go of our need to control an outcome and just do the next right thing, we are trusting in the grace of God. When we “accept the things we cannot change” and find the “wisdom to know the difference” between things we can change and things we can’t, we are trusting in the grace of God. When we experience the 9th Step Promises, we are experiencing grace. When our sponsor reminds us that working recovery is about progress rather than perfection, we are receiving grace. There are many gifts of recovery that are given to us as we work the program – things that we cannot get on our own. All of these fall into the category of grace and I don’t believe that we can recover without this grace.

I’ll leave you with the words of James: What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” – James 2: 14-17

May your effort work hand-in-hand with faith in God and His grace, as you work your program today!

– A grateful member of the Awaken community

Awaken is a Birmingham, AL based ministry walking with individuals, couples, and ministry leaders who have been impacted by sexual brokenness & addiction. Our goal is to help people experience hope, connection, and healing through the gospel and the recovery process. If you want to know more about Awaken or our resources, email us at!