The last two paragraphs of Chapter 11, “A Vision For You” in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, have always been my favorite passage in the book. For much of my sobriety, each time I read them (or heard them read), I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. I was never quite sure why, but I always felt something very deeply on each occasion.
On May 26, 2016, I was living in New York City and was preparing to fly home to Texas the next day to visit my mother, who was battling cancer. That morning I sat down, pulled out my Big Book, went to page 164, and read the last 161 words again. As I read, I noticed some very explicit promises, prayers, actions, and warnings hiding in plain sight. I began writing down what I saw in the hope that what I found, might one day be able to help others working our program of action in the way it had helped me.
Over the next few months, I’m going to share Chapters of an e-book I released back in May 2020 titled, “The Last 161 Words (of the First 164 Pages)“ with you. If you are interested in reading the whole e-book, I have offered it for free on this website for anyone who would like to read it. It’s a short, quick, and easy read. It’s readable in two formats; 1.) FlipBook on the website, or 2.) Free PDF download at https://takethe12.org/library/
The original title of this book was intended to be “Reflections on A Vision For You”, but when I sat down and finally started fleshing it out, I felt I wanted to call it something a little less grandiose. One day, as I was reading the content from which this book was drawn, it hit me… “The last 161 words of the first 164 pages of the Big Book contains all Twelve of our Steps!” And so, it was.
………. CHAPTER 11 ……….
“We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.”
The Step Connection: 3rd 1/3 of Step 12 – “…and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
Promises, Prayers, Actions, and Warnings: What a wonderful Promise. In this sentence, Bill tells me I’m not alone nor do I ever have to be alone. If I follow the simple design of these last 161 words of the first 164 pages – I will always have you by my side. Someone who understands. Someone who knows the struggles and rewards because you have walked this road too. One definition of trudge means “to walk with purpose.” As long as I remain humble, teachable, willing, and constantly connected to God, I will be placed in a position of neutrality, safe and protected. Switzerland Baby!!
The Fellowship of the Spirit is the fellowship I find with God and His kids. Walking with purpose down that road has been the greatest journey I’ve ever taken.
………. CHAPTER 12 ……….
“May God bless you and keep you—until then.”
The Step Connection: 1st 1/3 of Step 12 – “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps…”
Promises, Prayers, Actions, and Warnings: A final Promise. God WILL bless me and keep me on that Road of Happy Destiny so long as I’m continually willing to practice and apply the 12 simple suggestions given to me. The promise deep within the spiritual awakening (or spiritual experience) is that I’ll have a “personality change” sufficient to bring about recovery from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. I will become a changed man, a different man, a recovered man (not cured – recovered). I remember being told early on that “the same man will drink again.” While that phrase is not in our basic text, it’s a reminder that if I want the many gifts of sobriety, I must continue my work to become a different person. To remain sober as well as have the ability to serve God and His kids, I can’t be the selfish and self-centered person I was before walking into my first meeting in 1986. How grateful I am that God has changed me—for that change has given me a life beyond my wildest dreams!