There are many friends who cross our paths. Most are common. How close we are to them is usually determined by the quality of time we spend with them. There are exceptions. On a rare occasion, it depends on the quality of time that person spends with you. Such exceptions are rare. That was made Vincent special. We were friends for a short time yet he seems to be someone who I knew for a long time.
Yet, there are many things I didn’t know about him. I was surprised to learn that he actually had a birth impediment. I found out only yesterday that he was a premature baby and had difficulty in his work. Perhaps I was ignorant or perhaps he never behaved or looked like he did. I have never heard him complained about it. He never mentioned it. I would like to think he accepted it and celebrated life despite of it.
Perhaps it was because most of our meetings were not spent together face to face but on facebook. I did not get to see him as many would see him. Facebook was an avenue of release for him. It was there, I saw his soul, his spirit and his thoughts.
Contrary to many that would have known him, I did not find Vincent quiet. I found him to be a giant in areas he cared for. He loved his country and He loved His God. Vincent’s pages were filled with how he would love his country to be and how he would like His God is to be perceived. These 2 issues possessed him. It was all he wrote about. Such people are givers and never takers. I believe as such of you would attest Vincent would be just the man who would defend you when you are accused by others. He cared about how people would perceive his loved ones. He would stand by your side and for you.
He cared about his God and was man filled with His Grace. He was a knight when it comes to defending the Gospel. He was brave, steadfast and unmoved. His comments on facebook mirrored his real self. It was as if when he was on facebook he was Superman and when he was off it, he was Clark Kent. He was never afraid to have long debates with those who questioned the grace of His loving God.
One of his friends Murray had this to say of him “He was my favorite (facebook) guy. He was like the disciple Nathanael who Jesus praised as having no guile. Vince always said that God would turn it around for you no matter what bad thing happened. If anybody is with Jesus, he is. I loved that guy. Rarely have I met anyone as honest and direct and clear in his communications. I always knew EXACTLY what he meant when he said something. That is a very godly trait.”
A very godly trait can only come from a Godly man. And his godliness was contagious. Yesterday a facebook friend of his took a trip from Singapore to serenade a violin piece for him. And this man was not even a Christian. He was loved by his church members too. He was always certain of what he loved. I remembered for months his profile picture read “I love tNCC”. He immediately became a church favourite and was dearly loved and is now dearly missed.
As I said earlier, I had only learned about his physically impediment. I cannot help but to think, he had a giant of a spirit that was caught in a weak body. Perhaps that explains his passion for freedom. This passion is evident in his postings about his desire for greater freedom for this country and freedom from the bondage of religion. I would like to think he wanted to free to express himself in a greater way. Freedom perhaps from a body that could not hold a spirit that was just too great for his body.
I believe that our Jesus knew this. His friend Murray had this to say about him “Vincent is one of the strongest believers in the grace of God I have ever run across. He is truly radical about it I believe that is what you have to be. Found him to be an awesome example of the grace of God at work in a life. No matter what bad thing happened, he would always say that God would turn it around for you. I believe that God has taken his death and turned it into a victory celebration!”
Yes Vincent has a big heart and perhaps this heart was stronger than his body. That I believe was why I believe his body gave way to his spirit. The longing to be free. The passion to be free to be one with His God. He is now free. He is not just in a better place. He is in his favourite place. With his God, with His Saviour. This verse best sums up his life: Philippians 1: 21-26.
“Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose. As long as I’m alive in this body, there is good work for me to do. If I had to choose right now, I hardly know which I’d choose. Hard choice! The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful. Some days I can think of nothing better. But most days, because of what you are going through, I am sure that it’s better for me to stick it out here. So I plan to be around awhile, companion to you as your growth and joy in this life of trusting God continues. You can start looking forward to a great reunion when I come visit you again. We’ll be praising Christ, enjoying each other.”
Only this time, our reunion will be even greater. This time it is when he comes to visit us he would come with his Jesus is a glorified form together with chariots of fire in the heavens. I look forward to that day. I look forward to seeing my friend. Until that I day I will remember that spirit who was brave, vocal and selfless.
I wonder what I may say to all of you that may reflect this colossal spirit. I think he would like to say this:
“Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free.
I’m following the path God has laid you see.
I took his hand when I heard his call.
I turned back and left it all.
I could not stay another day,
To laugh, to love, to work or play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way
I found the peace at the close of day.
If my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joys—
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss
Oh yes, these things I too will miss.
Be not burdened with times of sorrow.
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life’s been full, I savored much,
Good friends, good times, a loved one’s touch.
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief.
Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your hearts, and peace to thee—
God wanted me now, he set me free.
Until we meet again Vincent, I look toward that day.
His grace is enough.