I must tell you about a girl I know slightly, who has greatly encouraged me. Her name is Rosalind, and she spent most of her life in the service of God. Very little else is known about her, because in those days no personal details were recorded.
Rosalind may have worked in the orphanage, or spent her years embroidering beautiful church linen. She might possibly have been involved in missionary work abroad. All we can be sure of was that in the latter part of the nineteenth century she joined the Society of the Sisters of Bethany, a religious order for women, and at the end of her life’s service she was buried at Highgate Cemetery. As far as history is concerned, she has left hardly a trace, and her life, her loves and her struggles are known only to God.
But known intimately to God. For most of us it is a sobering thought that within a few years of our death we will have ceased to exert any influence over the world and there will be little to show that we were ever here. A generation or two later we will not even be remembered. But Scripture reassures us that God knows every one of us as a cherished individual. In Bible stories of long ago, many people are mentioned once and never heard of again. We might be tempted to describe these characters as obscure. But all of them had hands and faces, hopes and dreams, and the mention of them by name in scripture is like a clue left there to remind us that no-one is obscure to God.
There is one thing more that I know about Sister Rosalind, and it is important that I share it with you. It is a moment, captured for our imagination and our enlightenment. One warm summer day, Rosalind was sitting in a wood, holding her paintbrushes and watercolour paints, her ears filled with the sound of the nearby river. There, in the presence of the God to whom she had dedicated her life, she spent some time painting what she saw of the beauty of his creation. Later, on the back of her painting, she signed her name in pen: +Rosalind S.S.B.
I know all this only because many years later I found the painting. Rosalind passed from the world’s sight but then, amazingly, was shown to us again. Our loving Father has granted us a glimpse of eternity. No name disappears or is forgotten. No-one who loves him ever passes into oblivion. Rosalind is now with the loving Father in whose company she sat on a river bank long ago.