From a young age, Mike Young had things all planned out.
At the age of 5, life started taking him down a different path than most kids his age. A deep love for motorcycles and his very first dirt bike put him at the local racetrack for countless hours every week, practicing over and over again.
Unbeknownst to Mike, this hobby would someday wear him out physically and emotionally – and eventually change his life forever.
By the time he was 14-years-old and entering high school, this “hobby” had turned into an actual job for Mike.“I missed many years of being a kid, as I traded them in for this profession – and with that came unbelievable pressures to perform,” he says. “While my friends from school were out playing and being young teenagers, I was putting in the work daily – practicing on my dirt bike, honing my skills and working out to stay super fit.”
He looked happy on the outside, but inside Mike was struggling. Though he was traveling the world and living a life of success, he found himself feeling empty, struggling with the grueling schedule and pressure to perform at a top level.
“Trying to do this on my own strength was eroding me from the inside out,” Mike explains. “Looking back on my life, I know it was so challenging because I didn’t have God in it. My “god” was racing my dirt bike – it was all I knew.”
His life revolved around the racetrack every Sunday, so church was out of the option for Mike. As he competed in races, winning some weekends and losing others, he found himself bouncing between the highest highs and the lowest lows on a daily basis.
Life felt empty.
During his freshman year of high school, a friend took a bold step of faith and invited Mike to join him at a Bible study at a friend’s house. Feeling so broken, desperate and searching for hope, Mike said “yes.”It was at this Bible study that Mike felt God speak a message to him that resonated deep in his soul. At the end of the evening, he gave his broken life to the Lord, raised his hand, and prayed a prayer of salvation.
“It was at that moment that God forgave me all of my sins – and those feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness then became promises of life, worth and hope,” he says. “My slate was wiped clean – I was changed forever! The weight was lifted from my shoulders and I felt like a brand new person.”
Life was no longer empty.
Instead of a life of personal pursuit, Mike now felt a desire to surrender his ways and live a life for God, seeking His plan first and foremost.
Before accepting Christ, Mike says he felt like he was standing on quicksand – unable to ever feel steady and confident. With Jesus, he stood on a solid foundation, so that when struggles, challenges and the overwhelming pressures of life came in, he could reach out to God and remain firm.
“God knew what I needed, just as He always does,” he says. “I love the great reminder of Psalm 73:26 whenever I am at a low point in life.”
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and portion forever.” Psalm 73:26
Thirteen years later, at the age of 27, Mike was living the life he had always dreamed about. It was all going according to plan.Newly married, new home recently purchased, and living out his dream as a professional Christian motocross racer, he was winning races and championships in front of thousands of people very week, all while sharing his faith in a very public limelight.
On April 27, 1997, his life changed in an instant.During the morning practice before one of his races, something went devastatingly wrong. As he was flying his motorcycle up a jump 30 feet in the air to span a distance of 90 feet, Mike misjudged the speed he needed to get across the gap safely and landed directly on the landing jump.The abrupt landing from the high speed sent the motorcycle handlebars into his chest, breaking his back and compressing his spinal cord. In a matter of seconds, life went from perfect to spinning recklessly out of control.
Instantly paralyzed from the mid-chest down, Mike knew life would never be the same.“At that moment, not knowing if I’d even survive the accident, let alone what the future would look like, I was scared,” he says. “But I also knew that my faith would sustain me and that God would see me through it. No matter what the result, this would be for His glory.”
Mike realized that the invitation to the Bible study all those years earlier had set him up for this moment. When he accepted Jesus and rested in His great promises and assurances, he could carry that with him as he faced a life-changing situation such as this.“I wrestled with so many thoughts as I laid there facedown in the dirt, unable to move,” Mike explains. “But as I struggled with what my future looked like, Isaiah 41:10 came to my mind and brought me peace.”
“So do not fear, for I am with you: do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you: I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Years later, Mike looks back on the day of his accident and sees God’s fingerprints all over it. God was writing his story all along, and the struggles of his life had prepared him for this new journey.
“Knowing that I am still here and that God isn’t done with me yet really excites me,” he explains. “It gives me hope in knowing that He still has a good and perfect plan for my life!”
Mike says he wants his life to show people facing various crises in life that God always has a plan for them. He brings hope, healing and a life more abundant than we could even imagine – but we have to turn to Him to receive it.
Since his paralyzing injury, he has raised two healthy teenage sons, run two businesses, raced in and won local NASCAR races, competed and placed in Ironman Triathlons, and has traveled the country sharing his story of God’s faithfulness.Here at Hillside, Mike has faithfully served in Upward Bound Sports, on our prayer and baptism teams, and for the past four years, has been a huge part of our Rooted team, helping to lead hundreds of people deeper in faith and closer to Jesus.
Though his life didn’t turn out exactly as he had planned, Mike knows he is living out the life God, the perfect Author, has written for him – and he wouldn’t change a thing.“God has many chapters left to write in my story and I can’t wait to see them written,” he says. “Even in tragedy and through all the hard times, I can honestly say, GOD IS GOOD.”
Rooted is a 10-week experience designed to help you grow deeper in your faith as you connect with God and others. Meaningful conversations are initiated around the table and are designed to help you find yourself in God’s story. Your experience will focus on community, service and generosity and no matter where you stand in your relationship with Jesus at the beginning of Rooted, there is always room to move forward.
Watch the video below to see the testimonials of some recent Rooted participants!Sign Up Now!