The motorcycling world was rocked recently with the shocking news of Nicky Hayden’s cycling accident and subsequent death. Fans the world over mourned the passing of an American icon in motorcycle racing. Nicky had excelled in AMA flat track and road racing, winning championships in each, and left his mark internationally by taking the 2006 MotoGP world championship. The past couple of years saw Nicky move to WSBK, World Superbike, already challenging the lead riders and teams there. In an age that currently sees few Americans competing on the international stage, not only was Nicky there representing us all, he was winning races and winning fans. As well as his achievements, Nicky was beloved the world over with his chiseled good looks, broad smile, affable Kentucky personality, and Southern drawl. His popularity arguably rivaled that of Valentino Rossi, his friend, former teammate and rival on the track.
And in an instant, he was gone, felled in an unlikely accident, on a bicycle no less.
I had followed his career and been a fan since his first days of moving up from AMA to MotoGP in 2003. I met his “kid brother” Roger recently, himself competing successfully in MotoAmerica. I do not know the faith status of the family, but from all I’ve seen and read, the Haydens are a close-knit, loving, down-to-earth Southern family, morally upright and all-American.
But did Nicky know Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior? I wish I knew. I certainly hope so. Selfishly, I’d love to meet him in Heaven someday, talk with him about life and racing, and the goodness of God in it all.
Nicky Hayden’s passing reminds me of several truths. First, life is fragile. We humans, for all our intelligence, creativity and industriousness, are still so easily broken, so easily disabled, so easily killed. The strongest person on the planet can still be vanquished with something as simple and small as a river stone (see 1 Samuel 17:48-50). I’ve come to grips with my own fragility, as age and health issues have altered my life in recent years.
Which brings me to the second truth- life is fleeting. We are only here for a short time, and nothing modern science and medicine can do will lengthen our days. God set our time here to be no longer than 120 years (see Genesis 6:3), and even that is only rarely attained. “…It is appointed to man to die once, and after this comes judgment…” (Hebrews 9:27), and no one can avoid this.
Lastly, to quote from the movie “Gladiator”, “What we do in life, echoes in eternity.” This certainly applies Biblically, as Scripture teaches clearly that human length of days and level of achievement are all for naught apart from a relationship with God through Christ. Paul said it best in Philippians 3:8- “I count al things as loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
Life is fragile, life is fleeting, and eternity is certain. Nicky Hayden reached the pinnacle of motorcycle racing. He was a selfless philanthropist, and beloved icon in the sport. But did he know Christ? I sincerely hope so. In the end, it’s all that really matters.