The Heaven to the Yeah viewers were blessed with the opportunity to hear grace ambassador, Jordan Gray, speak with national cyclist, Gage Hecht and how, even as a young professional athlete, he keeps his faith alive while soaring through nature and traveling across the country.
The Elite Cyclocross National Champion, based out of Parker Colorado, shares that with Gray that he has always been in a Christian household which has helped him keep his sights on his faith and grow through his faith journey while partaking in a rather secular sport. Although Hecht shares that he is surrounded by people day in and day out who may not share the same views or beliefs as he does, he finds it to be a rewarding way to share and do mission-type work while continuing his cycling preparation.
When asked how his faith has impacted his sports career, Hecht openly states that “[faith] has been a good thing to have as a backbone.” Hecht goes on to share how cycling, like most other sports, is very competitive and in that competitiveness, there is a lot of pressure as “everyone looks at you as the result of your last race, so if you don’t do well today, you could be out of a job or in a different position in the next few years.” With the weight of this pressure came the support Hecht felt through his faith as he realized his identity is not found in the results of his competitions, but rather in his ability to know that, no matter how his results turn out, he still has his faith.
In finding a faith-filled identity, Hecht found that it is most fulfilling to have his faith by his side as he brings up Jesus in an interview or is simply given the opportunity to talk to those he travels with, whether it be about faith or a general conversation about the struggles faced and impacts of life. Speaking with people in such a way has helped to show that people are not perfect but are perfect as God’s children.
Over his last fourteen years of cycling, Hecht used to think that competing for something bigger than himself would bring more pressure and we would feel a heavier weight on his shoulders as he felt that he needed to compete to represent Christianity and to represent God since God has done so much for him. That is a lot of pressure. But, through building a deeper relationship with his faith while on the road, Hecht went through a growing process where he came to terms with the fact that nobody will ever be perfect and that showed him the greatness of God since God will always love and save even as imperfect people. This has especially come to light for Hecht as he balances humility versus pride within his successes. “When I find myself getting a little full of myself, the sport has a way of knocking me back a little bit… it is the work of God saying, ‘you’re still doing this for something bigger…’ There will always be someone or something bigger or better than me… helping me keep purpose over the pride.”
Knowing the greatness of God, Hecht was asked to share what God’s Grace meant to him. In an emotional reflection, Hecht shared that over the last couple of years, he has embarked on many different journeys including a head injury that took him away from his sport. Rather than falling into darkness, Hecht used this time to reflect and realized the sins he has been walking in. “Sometimes you forget that God’s Grace is there and how perfect it is… I will never be perfect, but God makes me feel good. It [Grace] is true love from God.” God’s Grace and gift of faith is one that shines especially in trying times such as the time of the pandemic. When asked how his faith journey has helped him navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, Hecht revealed that the pandemic helped him in his faith just as much as his faith helped him through the pandemic. “When I’m on the road, I find my friends in the destinations… COVID put a dead stop to that, forcing me to be alone.” In this time alone, without the high-speed of his trips, Hecht was given time to reflect and realized how he has forgotten God in his travels and was granted the opportunity to grow closer to God and build a relationship with his faith allowing him to now ask God to take the reins in his competitions or while on the road. After things began to open, Hecht then became involved in Bible studies as well as Athletes in Action, merging his faith with his sport. This marriage with faith and sport instilled in Hecht deeper passions as he has always had a love of cycling and aviation, he now uses these passions to gain perspective—perspective of nature and perspective of people as he aims to see the world as Jesus would since Jesus calls us to interact with everyone lovingly.
Before Hecht finished his talk, he provided the viewers with words the Holy Spirit was asking him to share with the community. He advised that we keep our focus on God and see how loving God works as we look at various perspectives on how we can love people and see them through the eyes of Jesus. Gage had left the community with one final call for prayer. He asked that, if we could, to pray for him to have strength and courage in his competitions and to ride in a way that shows how Christ is a person you want in your life. Through young fame, to injury, to being called back to God through a pandemic, Hecht sheds light on the inspiration and the Graces of God that are calling out to each one of us.