What meaning is there for us in Isaiah 40 and 41

Reflections on spiritual renewal: The fountain of youth

Isaiah 40:32 and 41:10

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.

Week 29 (July)

Comentary on Isaiah 41

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. The first time I heard him speak was 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, 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 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'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 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, 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!

These devotional thoughts were written while I was serving as a missionary in Italy. They were published in Standard, a weekly take-home curriculum piece for adult Sunday school classes published by what is now called The Foundry.

    -- Howard Culbertson


Other devotional articles:    Year-long series in Standard     Amateur Radio    Christmas   Come Ye Apart     Devotionals about pastors

Rookie Notebook: Our first nine months as missionaries in Italy    10/40 Window map and explanation     Seeking God's will?     African martyr's commitment     Mission trip fundraising     Ways to ruin your mission trip    Nazarene Missions International resources