You may remember Eric Liddell’s character in the movie, “Chariots of Fire,” saying, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure.” Observant readers may have two problems with this observation. The first is that these appear to be the words of screenwriter Colin Welland and not the real-life Scottish missionary, as noted by historian Albert Mohler. The second is that God’s pleasure is not what most of us feel when pounding the pavement in hopes of achieving the fitness of our youths.
Still, we’ll take inspiration where we find it as will Matt Frye and Erin Grigsby who are forming an all-comers running club sponsored by Galveston’s First Lutheran Church in hopes of similar blessings.
The group will launch at 6:30 p.m. on June 6 at 24th Street and Winnie and is open to all fitness levels, said Robyn Bushong, who handles publicity for the church. It will meet weekly on Tuesdays in the church courtyard and will be called, “Get better together.”
Frye is a local high school teacher, athletic coach as well as serving as an Ambassador for the Chevron Houston Marathon. He agrees with the movie’s sentiment.
“There’s a peace that comes to me,” he said. “In that time there is nothing I can control or do but to run and it allows me to take in all that’s around me, visual or reflective.”
And he sees the new club as an extension of First’s greater mission to Galveston.
“Having a group like this just further builds upon what God wants from us,” Frye said. “Having the community come together to better each other, challenge each other, and grow from each other so that we may better the lives around us including ourselves. Sounds a lot like what happens here on Sundays.”
Like the Christian life, club members will be at differing levels of fitness and experience, but all can share in the weekly prayer and runs.
“We will be having prayer and I believe the potential to grow into more ministry is there as we go forward,” Frye said. “And, pushing yourself into something you’re not very good at or even pushing yourself to better what you are good at leaves us oftentimes vulnerable and exposed. Whether it is the fear of looking silly or just not flattering, it has the potential to close people off. That is unless everyone around you is going through the same thing or has gone through the same thing. This is where community grows and barriers come down. There is more willingness to open up and discuss things with individuals you have suffered with or who now share a common bond.”
Co-host Erin Grigsby said that running really can bring diverse folks together.
“I have been a running coach for the last four years and one of the best things to see is the connections people make with each other in and out of the group,” she said. “Running has helped me in so many ways. It has improved my strength physically and spiritually. When run I feel tremendously blessed about my day and like Matt said, I take in all that’s around me.”
She also offered two Bible verses to encourage even the sedentary to come and see.
“Matthew 5:16 says to, ‘Let your light shine before others,’” she said. “I believe if we do this it will help start conversations with others in a positive way.”
And, Hebrews 12:1 says, “Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us,” Grigsby noted. “Our goal is not to leave anyone behind. We want to encourage and support everyone to walk or run no matter their ability. Matt and I have both coached people of all ages and levels and we know that creating a strong team will have everyone be involved.”
Following each Tuesday evening’s outing, participants can cool down with light snacks and bottled water provided by First Lutheran.
For details, call 208-659-3763 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.