It was on a recent trip to the local home center I noticed the new signage at the local chicken processing plant.
Wet Ingredients Facility.
And, given that the facility is the latest pet food production site for the company, it is to be hoped we can live by our commitment.
Somehow, within minutes, my mind went back to a conversation I had nearly forty years ago with the Lovely Lady’s father. It was on one of our many excursions out into the countryside to deliver a piano to a customer.
The ancient white-haired man (all humans over sixty were ancient to me then—not anymore) and I had ridden a few miles down the chip-and-seal country road, enjoying the beautiful Ozark Mountain foothills. Suddenly, the old man twisted the steering wheel of the old Dodge van violently to the right and within seconds, we were creaking and rattling over the bumps and potholes of the rocky stone and dirt lane.
After a mile or so of bouncing along, I noticed the collapsing cement block walls of the old place coming up on the left-hand side as we approached. Wrinkling up his nose, he yelled over the racket.
That’s where the old rendering plant used to be!
The circumstances weren’t conducive to conversation, but I had to know.
Rendering plant? What’s that?
He explained as we rode on. You wouldn’t know it, but it had been one of the first truly green industries around. Meat processing plants, farmers, grocery stores—all of them brought their unusable animal parts, dead by natural or unnatural means, and left them with the rendering plant to turn into useful products.
The rendering plants turned out tallow for candles, or soaps, and even pet foods. Tons of valueless, nasty garbage—turned into consumable (and profitable) products.
It was recycling at its best. Or perhaps, at its worst.
Oh. The stench! When the wind was from the east, it hung over the whole town. You could hardly breathe.
And with that, there was an explanation for the nose-wrinkling. I laughed, imagining the malodorous atmosphere, many years past the time the smelly old factory had closed down and been abandoned.
Beneficial processes aren’t always pleasant. They’re not.
Sometimes, for trash to become treasure, repulsive stages must be endured.
I’m happy the rendering plant is defunct; I’m just as happy the new wet ingredients facility has state-of-the-art equipment to keep me from smelling said wet ingredients, along with whatever else happens to go into that particular mix.
But, I’m curious now. My brain, wandering a little and (odd how it works like this) wondering a lot, wants to know if this rendering thing has anything to do with the words spoken centuries ago by the Teacher, as he was examined by those who detested Him.
Holding the Roman coin in His hand, He made it clear to all who were listening that the image on it was indeed, Caesar’s and instructed them to render unto Caesar that which was his. Three of the apostles included the event in their Gospels. Three.
This must be important stuff.
Men have argued through the ages since about taxation and its relevance to followers of God and His Son. They always will.
They also miss the point.
The words that followed His instruction about Caesar bear more—much more—consideration.
Render unto God that which is God’s.
The coins were stamped by the hundreds of thousands and dispersed to every corner of the Empire. For all that, they still belonged to the Empire.
The evidence was the image stamped upon them. They were Caesar’s—no one else’s.
I wonder. Do you suppose anyone listening missed the importance of the comparison? I don’t think they did.
The spies from His enemies were all experts in the Law. They knew—absolutely knew—the significance of the words.
Render to God. . .
Where is God’s image stamped?
It’s not a difficult question. There is but one answer.
It is stamped on every single human being ever born. Every one. It always has been. It always will be.
We are made in His image. (Genesis 1:27)
I understand how taxes would be paid to Caesar. But, how does one render what is due to God?
Jesus Himself answered the question, although the answer had already been given centuries before He sat with them and said the words. Love God with everything you have. Heart. Soul. Mind. Strength. (Mark 12:29-30)
The apostle, for whom I am named, said it more than once. Every knee will bow and every tongue will declare—to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2: 10-11)
And, before that: I beg you to yield yourselves to God. Do that, and He will render you into a new person completely. (Romans 12: 1-2)
And, what of the odor from the process?
That’s going to be a problem, right?
Not so much. Somehow, in the process of rendering back, the byproduct is a sweet aroma.
As perfume rising to the heavens is the return of the gift to the Giver.
The process may seem painful at times. It may appear to be to our disadvantage, temporarily.
The day is coming when we will see the complete result of the rendering.
Changed in a moment’s time.
Rendered to Him at last.
The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
Until then, I trust the air around is pleasantly scented.
It’s the aroma of a soul in process.
You’ll let me know, won’t you?
Give of your best to the Master;
Give Him first place in your heart;
Give Him first place in your service;
Consecrate every part.
Give, and to you will be given;
God His beloved Son gave;
Gratefully seeking to serve Him,
Give Him the best that you have.
(from Give of Your Best to the Master ~ Howard Grose ~ American author/poet ~ 1851-1939)
Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.
(2 Corinthians 2:14b ~ NLT ~ Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. All rights reserved.
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2017. All Rights Reserved.