Finish Strong - Adam LaRoche

For the past 90 days, I’ve been on a journey with a few friends who’ve committed to do away with a number of things in our lives that may be taking precedence over God. So for 90 days, we committed to give up things like television, social media, soda, sugar, hot showers (don’t worry, we took showers, they just had to be cold ones), alcohol and meat twice a week.


When my friend first asked me and a few other men to do this, I agreed to do it more out of a supportive gesture. Sure, I’ll do this practice with a friend, why not? Some of the things were easy for me to give up. I’ve never been hooked on television and I don’t often go on social media, but the temptation to grab a pop or snack in between meals was a little more difficult. And the cold showers suck; there’s no easy way around that one.


In the group of six of us who were engaged in this challenge, half are Protestant and half Catholic. As we came together twice a week to study the Bible together and discuss how it applies to our lives today, it was so cool to see religion and denominations become irrelevant. There were never any divisions or arguments about theology, wording or practices. Instead, we were all there for one reason — to put God first in our lives.


One of the Protestants in the group was brand-new to Christ, the Bible and the whole faith thing. When my friend first approached him to ask if he wanted to commit to this challenge with us, he didn’t hesitate. He was an immediate yes. With little to no background in any religion, he could have easily been intimidated or wanted to ease his way into Church and the Bible, but he dove right in without asking questions. It’s been so cool to see him ask questions and grow through these 90 days.


There are enough practices to uphold within this challenge to make you have it on your mind every day. Yes, we all screwed up at times. There were a few times when I grabbed a Dr. Pepper for a quick caffeine fix and then had to report back to the group to admit my weakness. While these things aren’t sins in themselves, they have been really good to give up for the sake of Jesus. In essence, we are telling Him we’re choosing Him before everything else — all comforts, pleasures or habits. Going through this has given me a greater appreciation for what I often take for granted (like hot showers!).


There’s power in saying “no” to something just for the sake of disciplining yourself to say “no.” You have to put aside your desires and your pride. Personally, I’ve never gone through this type of fasting before. I always seemed to have an excuse. As a professional baseball player, I was always fighting to keep weight on and argued that I needed the calories and nutrition too much. While I thought it was great for people to do, I just thought it wasn’t for me.


But this has been an eye-opener for me. Who am I to think that God can’t take care of all the needs of my life when I choose to put Him first? Now that I have gone through this and discovered some really cool things in my own growth and life, I realize I may have missed out on the blessings God pours out on us when we do fast and put the focus on Him. I’m so glad my friends brought me along for this journey. While I’ve never made fasting a spiritual priority, I’m now thankful I have. By putting aside some of these comforts and dedicating ourselves to an hour of prayer each day and in-depth study of God’s Word, we have seen many great growth opportunities and open doors God has provided in our lives and relationships.


It’s all about a priority shift. Anything we can do to keep Jesus at the forefront of our minds each day is worth it, even if it means giving up what’s comfortable. But just like going to the gym, it’s much easier and more impactful if you go on this journey with others who can hold you accountable. So grab a few friends and get creative. Whether that means you choose to put your cell phone down for a time or commit to taking your wife out every week on a date, push each other toward Christ!


We all will screw up at times, but continue pressing forward. It’s great to know in Christ there is forgiveness and grace. No one is going to finish this race at 100 percent; you cannot perfect this life. But Christ has and He’s paid for our inadequacies. All He’s asking is that we finish our race with our eyes on Him. So finish, and finish strong.


— Adam LaRoche, former MLB player


Adam LaRoche is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.


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