Week 29 (July)
"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." (Isaiah 40:31)
I can't read the last part of Isaiah 40 without remembering Paul Martin. The tone of these great promises of renewed strength seems to describe the seemingly eternal youthfulness of that evangelist and author.
Paul Martin was one of my boyhood heroes. The first time I heard him speak was at the 1962 Nazarene International Institute held in Estes Park, Colorado. The following summer he was the speaker for our Southeast Oklahoma district youth camp at Robbers Cave State Park near Wilburton, Okla. One year, he was the evangelist for a city-wide youth week revival held in Oklahoma City First Church of the Nazarene.
Later, when I was as an employee of what is now the Nazarene Youth International office at the Global Ministry Center, I worked with Paul Martin in a couple of general youth gatherings.
His messages always seemed to be aimed at my young life. His writings had a profound effect on my spiritual life. As a young preacher, I even borrowed some of his ideas to put together sermons (I didn't think he'd mind).
I'm hoping that someday somebody will do a complete biography of Paul Martin. An author of Paul Martin's biography would find a theme -- maybe even a title -- in the last part of Isaiah 40.
In the early 1500s a Spaniard named Ponce de Leon searched all over Florida for the legendary "Fountain of Youth."
Ponce de Leon never found that Fountain of Youth, but Paul Martin did. He was already well past the normal "Youth Pastor" years when I met him. But in his waiting on the Lord, PaulMartin was able to remain and effective evangelist with young people right to the end of his full life. There was something appealing about this man -- not only his gift of humor, but also his profound conviction that God was near, ready to help and strengthen.
While Paul Martin's way with young people was unusual in some respects, the Word does promise an eternal youth to those who trust the Lord. The renewing strength that Paul Martin found for his "walking and running" is available to all.
While in Italy, I received a letter from someone who had just returned home from the Eastern Kentucky district Nazarene Missionary Convention. Armand Doll, former missionary to Mozambique, was the speaker. My friend was writing to comment on Rev. Doll's special effect on the young people present at the convention. This missionary colleague of mine, who wound up being imprisoned by a Marxist governent, is a special testimony to the promises of Isaiah 40:21-31. Months in prison left him undaunted. His testimony to the greatness of God so affected young people that they willingly offered themselves for missionary service, knowing full well the kind of risks they might face.
The list of testimonies to the truth of Isaiah 40 could go on and on.
My soul was made for God. Thus, if my spiritual pilgrimage is not feeding a rejuvenating force in me, something is wrong. If I am living the fully surrendered life, I should not find myself on the losing end of a struggle. Rather, I should be experiencing the soaring, exhilarating flight of the eagle Isaiah mentions.
We too can drink forever at the real Fountain of Youth!
I wrote these devotional while serving as a missionary in Italy. They originally appeared in the July 20, 1980 edition of Standard, a take-home piece for adult Sunday school classes.
Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma City, OK 73132
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