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When John Wesley was thirty-two years old, he was a bachelor missionary in the colony of Georgia. While he was serving a church in Savannah, he met a young woman named Sophia Christian Hopkey. She was pretty and intelligent, and Wesley fell head over heels in love with her. But Wesley belonged to a group called the Holy Club, and one of their ideals was that members should remain single. So Wesley was caught in a dilemma. Was it the will of God for him to marry Sophie or not?

To find out, he and a friend named Charles Delamotte decided to draw lots. On three pieces of paper they wrote: "Marry"; "Think not of it this year"; and "Think of it no more." Then they put the pieces in a container. Delamotte closed his eyes and drew out the third one, "Think of it no more." Wesley was heartbroken, but he took the result to be the will of God. He ended the courtship, and, not long after, he sailed back to England. In his journal, he wrote over the record of his romance, "Snatched as a brand out of the fire."

Shortly after this return to England, Wesley came to saving faith in the Lord Jesus, and he began the evangelistic ministry which God used so greatly. During his travels, he fell in love with another woman, a widow and a Bible class teacher named Grace Murray. This time he tried a different approach to finding the will of God about marriage. He listed seven factors he desired in a wife--her roles as "Housekeeper, Nurse, Companion, Friend, and a Fellow Labourer in the Gospel of Christ...Her Gifts, and the Fruits of her Labours." He set out the pros and cons, and then he stated his conclusion: "Therefore all my seven arguments against marriage are totally set aside. Nay, some of them seem to prove that I ought to marry and that G. M. is the person."

Unfortuately, John's brother Charles did not agree. He believed that marriage would hamper John's evangelistic work. When he heard the news, he galloped over to Grace's home, jumped off his horse, ran in, and said to her, "Grace Murray, you have broken my heart." Then he fainted at her feet. That shook Grace so badly that she hastily married another man. Strike two for Wesley!

Finally, a year and a half later, at the age of forty-seven, John did marry, a wealthy widow named Mary Vazeille. I do not know how Wesley chose her or what Charles had to say, but John made a mistake. He had a very unhappy marriage, and, twenty years later, she left him. When she did, Wesley wrote in his journal, "I have not left her; I would not send her away; I will not recall her" (Gary Inrig, Hearts of Iron, Feet of Clay, pages 109-110).

(From a sermon by Tim White, Three Steps to Knowing God's Will in Proverbs 3:5-6, 5/7/2011)

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