Glacier Bay Running Team

July 2, 2015 | Meghan Barker

One of my concerns with coming up to Glacier Bay this summer was how I was going to maintain (the motivation) for my normal workout schedule. As weird and self- absorbed as it sounds, I believe that God gave me a healthy, able body and that part of my thankfulness to Him for that is taking care of the resource that I have been given. At school, it is easy to maintain my workouts because I have access to a gym and to fitness classes; I knew that wasn’t going to be the case when I got up here. Worried about how I was going to incorporate this in to my life up in Alaska, I forced myself to start running* the trails around the Lodge, just to keep my heart rate up. I did it so begrudgingly for the first two or three weeks I was here; I really don’t like running, but I was able to do it because I found beauty in the environment that I was running in.

As I got to know people around here and I formed relationships with the other Lodge staff, I realized that a few other people were doing the same thing I was: there was a group of women (and a few guys) who were concerned about maintaining fitness and were struggling to run on their own. We figured that we should all run together; maybe running the hills in company would make things better. The past few weeks, depending on work schedules, we have been meeting up and running on the only road that goes in and out of the park. At first, I struggled hard core: some of the other people were much more capable than I was and were able to push the hills a bit harder. But as we have gotten to go a bit farther each day, I have found that I am physically capable of so much more than I ever thought when it comes to running! Last week, I pushed it the hardest yet, and ran almost five miles. I was so proud of myself, and could feel His presence as I slowly but surely ran from the Lodge to the park entry sign.

While I am so proud of what we have been doing, I have realized that running was something I was being called to do for other reasons. Many times our runs have created the perfect place for reflection, conversation and prayer for whatever daily struggles me or my running partners are going through. I have learned not only to push myself physically, but to open myself up to others and to create a place for people to feel included and to have something to look forward to. This is exactly the kind of relational ministry I know I was called here to do, and I am so grateful that it comes in the package of also feeding my fitness needs.

There have been so many unexpected twists and turns in my time up in Alaska so far; creating a Glacier Bay Lodge Running Team was certainly not one of them! Stay tuned- the group has decided that our goal by the end of the summer was to run all the way from the Lodge in to the town of Gustavus, a total of 10 miles! I know that through God I can run that distance, and when it happens it will be all for Him. Until then, I will stick to the smaller runs- it’s taking Amazon a while to ship me my insoles and my legs/feet are dying! I’m so grateful for all the new things that have come out of this experience- my mind is continuously blown with God’s care and dedication to me in this ministry!

*jogging slower than a hippopotamus walking through peanut butter but whatever, I’m calling it running.

"It was especially neat to begin developing an eye for analogies and concrete images in creation, tying observations in with our relationship with God and seeing that there are, in effect, ...parables' all around us of God's care and the gospel."
– Jonathan, Calvin Theological Seminary 2011

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