"For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation." Psalm 149:4 ESV
The old woman dipped her brush into the paint well and began applying the white paint with fine stokes to the green stock, while looking at the model before her. Always she had painted the castings this way, sometimes still warm from the foundry floor.
The little cast iron doorstop she was working on this day was called "Hearth Cat #1890", a rather grumpy looking model that the wealthy favored, with its white feet, chin and chest. Just as quickly as the white paint had set, the casting was taken to the next painter by the young runner who worked the paint tables. She would be well into painting the accents on the next casting by the time that had happened.
She thought of the many older painters at the foundry who had told her when she was younger of how she had that special gift of "a proper brush stroke" that brought the iron alive. They were the joy of her life back then, as they shared their love of Christ with each other and always encouraged her in her faith. She thought of those days in the old foundry by the river and of how much she missed their fellowship. The current loss being endured by the painters from losing so many loved ones to the "war to end all wars" and to the Spanish Flu had replaced sharing with silence.
As her productive life was coming to a close, so was that of the Victorian age, an age of decorative iron and, like her brush strokes, the tastes of the wealthy had faded with time as well. She knew there would be no retirement for her and that it would be off to the county work home and infirmary with her when that time would come. That was the way for almost all the foundry painters that she had learned from and who had led her to accept the Lord Jesus as her personal Savior. Her faith was enough to keep her positive and grateful through her years, and in knowing what the real end would be for all believers, she looked forward to going to heaven.
As fate would have it, that was her last day at the tables and her passing was remembered with sadness by those of the foundry who marked the occasion. Just as she had always done every day, six days a week, for longer than she cared to remember, she began to give another casting a life of its own with her creative brushstrokes that imparted so much personality to them. Leaning back on her stool to refresh her brush, she felt a sharp pain in her temple that made her drop it. With her hand to her head, she fell to the floor and died.
She was taken from the paint room to the drying room, and with no known family to contact, the only call that was made by the foundry office was to the morgue. Her body was eventually placed into a wooden coffin, which was stacked unto the other coffins that were piling up on the street corners of Kansas City. All were awaiting collection by the grave diggers because of the burial backlog from the huge number of Spanish Flu victims in the city. Along with the other paupers of the day, she was eventually buried with no marker, nor words of remembrance, and with only the sound of the shovels to mark the occasion of her interment.
When her replacement at the tables was told of Imogen and about her gift for proper brush strokes, the young girl said she would try to paint as good as that too. "If you can paint as well as the model in front of you has been done," one of them said, "you will be just as good as Imogen was, and she was one of the best. You see, the model you are using as a guide to copy was the last #1890 casting that Imogen had completely painted, about an hour before she went to be with her Jesus." "And how did she die?" the young girl asked. "She died well," one replied.
Like Imogen, we all leave our mark upon our work and upon those we meet. It is our brushwork upon things and people that we leave behind as testimony of our love of Jesus. When we close our eyes in this life for the final time and open them again in the next, we hope to hear from Him that we did well as loyal and faithful servants.
Paint a smile where you can in this life and use the bold brush strokes of our hope and faith in Jesus.