John Wesley Takes The Sea

Peter Martin felt the sweat begin to bead on his forehead. The situation was beginning to worsen by the second and he wasn’t sure how he should proceed. He was on his way to St. Ives, driving a carriage with an extremely important person inside.

Martin sighed and pulled on the reigns bringing the horses to a standstill. Up ahead the road dipped into a sandy stretch of beach along the seashore. It was a picturesque drive to take on most days. The ocean was majestic as always in all its grey-green splendor.

But today was not a good day to take the sea.

Martin watched as the tide crept up over the white gold sands swallowing the thin strip of beach. It was not only edging its way forward but it was also edging its way upward and Martin knew that it would not be long before the road became impassable.

“What’s the matter, sir?”

Martin whipped his head around and peeked over the side of the carriage at the sound of the voice calling to him from the back.

It was his passenger. The inimitable John Wesley.

“The water’s risin’ Master Wesley” Martin called back over the rush of the wind and the squalls of gulls circling overhead. “I don’t know if we’re going to make it across”

“Impossible Sir!” Wesley’s grey hair whipped behind him in the cool salt washed air. “I need to be in St. Ives tonight. I have made an appointment to preach there and I intend to keep it”

“But the road is impassable Master Wesley, the tide is risin’ and fast”

“I must keep my appointment in St. Ives sir. The work of God must not be hindered by any circumstance!”

Just then they were startled by shouts in the distance. Martin’s head snapped in the direction of the voice and he saw a man, silhouetted against the vast expanse of the ocean, clambering along the beach towards them.

He was waving his hands frantically, signaling them to go back towards the main highway they had just cut away from.

“Go back!” Martin could hear the man shout as he came closer. The wind tore the words away from him, viciously flinging them out towards the sea.

“Go back!”

Soon the man was standing beside them and gripping the edge of the carriage as he looked up at Martin. From his clothes and the look about him Martin deduced he was a sea captain.

“Go back” he repeated panting “you’ll never make it through…it’s too late. The tide is rising too fast, you’ll be swept out to sea”

Martin looked back towards the body of the carriage. John Wesley’s face had a determined look about it that made Martin gulp inwardly.

“I must press on! I have work to do for the Lord which cannot wait upon the tide!” Wesley called over the lashing wind. Both Martin and the Captain looked at the preacher in disbelief.

“B-b-b—-” the captain sputtered

Ignoring him Wesley shouted up to Martin “Take the Sea! Take the sea!”

I Have Promises To Keep

Gathering up his courage Martin slapped the reigns sharply against the horses’ backs. Neighing in protest the animals inched forward. Soon the horses were up to their necks in water and the terrified Martin expected to be swept out to sea at any moment.

He heard a shout from behind him and gingerly craned his neck around. The salty ocean water was swirling out of the carriage windows and Wesley was holding on for dear life. His hair was slicked back and dripping with water but his eyes were bright and firm.

“What is your name sir?” he called to Martin

“Martin. Peter Martin” the petrified driver called back.

The ocean was boiling around them and the gulls shrieked overhead, whirling and tumbling on the cool sea breeze that tugged them this way and that.

“Peter” John Wesley called back, ignoring the water and the wind and the laughing gulls “Peter, fear not! You will not sink!”

They finally arrived in St Ives weary and battle-worn after having fought their way through the high tide for a considerable amount of time.

Peter Martin was convinced that they had been preserved by a miracle of God.

Soon after they arrived John Wesley’s first concern was to make sure that Peter Martin was comfortably and safely situated in his accommodation. He took great pains to make sure the drenched ostler had a roaring fire and plenty of thick blankets to keep him warm and dry. He then made sure the man had enough to eat.

Once he had taken care of his driver, Wesley continued unperturbed to the chapel where he was scheduled to preach.

He was drenched but he didn’t bother changing his clothes. There was no time. He was on a mission and nothing would deter him from completing it.

He had a promise to keep. To preach the Word of God to those who were eagerly waiting to hear it.

Mounting the platform he preached a powerful sermon completely oblivious to the fact that he had nearly drowned on his way to St. Ives or that he was still soaking wet.

The only thing that mattered was that he had accomplished his mission.

He was eighty-three years old at the time.

During his ministry John Wesley wrote “Get these three principles fixed in your hearts; that things eternal are much more considerable than things temporal; that things not seen are as certain as the things that are seen; that upon your present choice depends your eternal lot”

So live bravely and choose wisely. There is more at stake than just your present reality.

Further Reading and Citations

  • Wilson, J. (2016) – The Wesleys: Two Men Who Changed The World

Suki Goonatilleke lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two daughters. She is passionate about winning people for Jesus and has served in full-time ministry at Gateway Adventist Center. Her current ministry endeavors include being a stay-at-home mom by day and writer by night.