The apostle Paul and his companions who can be said to represent the church went by ship, and that to my mind represents all such manmade means employed by God for the reaching of His ends, to Rome.
On the way while on the one side there seemed to be so much that was working in opposition and reverse and contradiction, on the other side it was a case of the stripping off of all the works of men. The ship did go to pieces, the man-made thing employed by the sovereignty of God to reach His ends. It was thrown away when His ends were in the way of realization.
There are a lot of things made by men, and godly men at that, which the Lord makes use of, but they will go, e.g. places of meeting, institutions, societies, organisations: they are made by men, they are useful, they help toward God’s end, but like the ship, they are but means to the end. You must not put all your faith in the ship; you must not ascribe final values to the place, the means, the instrument. We shall find that the Lord has not committed Himself to keep the means intact, to hold the instrument for eternity.
It is His Church that He is after, which He is preserving, which is to come out alive; and on the way, the ‘things’ will have to go, they will have to be broken up, they cannot meet the full impact of the forces of evil in this terrific storm. The forces of evil are too much for anything made by man, but they are not the equal of what God has made: His Church will come out all right.
Be careful that you do not put too much upon God’s means, God’s instrument, the ship. Keep your eye on God’s real object. The framework of things may break up, but God’s spiritual values will be eternally preserved. And let us not worry too much if God sees the time has come for the stripping off of things. They may have served a very good purpose and our hearts may be very much linked with them, with that place or that instrumentality; but if the Lord begins to break it up and take it from us, do not think everything of value is going. No, it is the spiritual values upon which our hearts must be set.