the good fight

John Paul Jones was handsome, Scottish, and completely insane.

During the American Revolution, Jones led a campaign to invade England knowing full well that the British Royal Navy was the largest and most powerful navy on the planet, and he had less than 100 converted merchant ships. The way he managed to achieve this, without an early visit to Davy Jones’ Locker, was by using pirate tactics.

First, he captured a British vessel off the coast of Ireland. He brought it back to France. Then, he returned to Britain, attacked more ships (capturing or destroying over 200 of them), raided towns, captured forts, and evaded capture the entire time.

The French gave Jones a seven-ship fleet to command. He named his flagship the Bonhomme Richard. She carried forty-two cannons from a scrapyard and a crew of 380.

On September 23, 1779, under the cover of darkness, John Paul Jones attacked a convoy guarded by the British frigate, the HMS Serapis. The Serapis was faster and had forty-four cannons that were not found in the garbage.

Thirty minutes into the battle, after numerous direct broadside volleys, the Serapis had cost Jones most of his men and all but three of his cannons, some of those scrapyard cannons detonating upon attempt to fire them. The crew begged Jones to surrender but Jones was having none of it. John Paul Jones turned the ship around and rammed the Serapis in an attempt to board it.

Upon seeing the crew attempt to surrender, Captain Pearson of the Serapis yelled across to Jones and asked him if he had struck his flag in order to surrender. Jones responded, from his sinking ship that was also on fire, “I have not yet begun to fight.”

What Immediately followed was a point-blank blast straight into the broadside of the Serapis. Eventually, one of Jones’ crewmen managed to throw a grenade in the Serapis’ gunpowder supply. The resulting explosion knocked out all but four of the British cannons. Seeing that Jones was not going to give up anytime soon, the Serapis surrendered.

For most rational human beings, this fight would have been over in the first 30 minutes. When most of us would see our vessel turned into burning Swiss cheese, we would figure that it was probably time to cut our losses and surrender. John Paul Jones was not like most people.

Like David facing Goliath, like Paul being stoned in Lystra and then going back into the city, like Job after losing everything, like Elijah begging the Lord to take his life, like Jesus resurrecting after three days of being deceased, John Paul Jones’ fight was not over and neither is yours.

The fight is not over when it seems that you are on the losing side. The fight is only over when you decide that it is over. “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11-12 NKJV)

jared jenkins (5/8/2022)

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