"DON'T GIVE UP THE SHIP" is a flag favorite in my hometown of Erie, PA. You'll see the blue flag with those words in all capitals flown outside of businesses, homes and plastered on the back of pick-up trucks. It is a quotable favorite all around America but it holds a special place in the Erieites heart because it was here, during the Battle of Lake Erie, where that battle cry was first expressed.
There is much debate over who said it first and who should get the glory for this famous line. In reality Captain Lawrence said it first but he didn't imprint it on a flag. Perry liked the saying so much he wanted to fly it high for all of his men to claim and all of his enemies to fear. He wasn't going to let his fleet go down. They weren't going to give up the ship. Not if Perry had anything to do with it.
Lawrence himself died giving up the ship. Those were his last words so he never had the chance to see how they played out in the heat of battle. They didn't go over well. His men did indeed give up the ship.
But not Perry. Perry fought hard at the Battle of Lake Erie and now the flag with his favorite phrase flies as a testimony to his victory on the monument dedicated to his leadership.
On this Memorial Day that flag conveys a special meaning. It flies all year long but most days I don't think on it and really meditate on its meaning. Perry fought for nearly a year to win the territory I now call home. He refused to give up his ships and let Britain send him into retreat. Perry saw the mistakes of Lawrence and didn't repeat them. He remained steadfast and tirelessly fought to win.
I'll never be in the navy. Well, never say never...but I can be quite certain in proclaiming that a naval future isn't in my cards. That doesn't mean that I don't have a ship to protect and keep afloat. That flag could be flown on the roof of my house, on the hood of my car or right out of my back pocket. The body I live in is my own personal vessel that I am fighting for, refusing to give up.
All of us are in the fight of our lives. Our enemy is just as real as the British were on the waters of Lake Erie. Satan is trying to take us down and force up to give up our ship. But, just like Perry, we can fly a flag of resolve and determination that refuses to give into the enemy. We have everything to fight for - this life and the eternal life to come.
The battle we face is not against the circumstances of our lives or a ship full of weapons and angry opponents. Ephesians 6:12 warns us, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
Our enemy is dead set on our defeat but God is more powerful than our enemy and He has given us His Holy Spirit as the ultimate flag of triumph. When we put on the full armor of God and go to battle under the leadership of the Mighty Lord we are destined for victory. Satan doesn't stand a chance. He will sink like the British. But to see the victory through to the end we must stand firm in the Lord and decide not to give up the ship. Perry's victory didn't come overnight and ours might not either. This is a battle, not a scrimmage. This is war, not a game.
Beloved, if you are in this for the long haul, determined to see God get the glory for the victory in your life then fly your flag with faith, trust and hope because the battle is already won. God has defeated the enemy and when we remain faithful in the fight we will see how His strategy is perfect and His tactics are always just right. All He is asking of you is, "don't give up the ship."