What meaning is there for us in Isaiah 40 and 41
40 31 Those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
41 10 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.
Commentary on Isaiah 41: Are you working on a sermon on Isaiah 41:10? Here is help for you.
I can't read those verses from Isaiah 40 and 41 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. I first heard him speak at a Nazarene International Institute (now called Nazarene Youth Congress) 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, OK. 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 worked in what is now the Nazarene Youth International office at the Global Ministry Center, I helped behind the scenes for Paul Martin in a couple of national 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 hope that someone will someday do a complete biography of Paul Martin. An author of the life story of Paul Martin would find a theme -- maybe even a title -- in the last part of Isaiah 40.
In the early 1500s, Spaniard 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 because Paul Martin "waited" on the Lord (the wording of many English Bible translations of Isaiah 40:31), he remained an effective evangelist with young people right to the end of his full life. There was something appealing about that 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 a kind of 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, a former missionary to Mozambique, was the speaker. My friend was writing to comment on Armand 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 government, 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, something is wrong if my spiritual pilgrimage is not feeding a rejuvenating force in me. If I am living a 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!
-- Howard Culbertson,
I wrote this devotional article while serving as a missionary in Italy. It originally appeared in Standard, a weekly Faith Connections take-home curriculum piece for adult Sunday school classes published by The Foundry.