My Friend Ed
They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor.
This is an assertion from the Psalmist, from Psalm 112. It is one of the many ways he describes the quality of life for those who revere the Lord and find great joy in obeying Him. So many of the Psalms burst with this unshakeable fact about those who gladly submit to generosity. No matter what may happen on this earth, those who pour out their selves to others in this way possess an eternal reward.
The apostle Paul, in his letter to Timothy, extols the results of generosity in the Kingdom of Heaven: “They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:9) Trigger-happy generosity is a virtue that the saints of old, those who have walked the walk before us, delighted in.
It is also something that defined Ed Vickers in this life — and continues to in that place which is “truly life.” I have personal experience receiving the kind of generosity Ed Vickers is renowned for.
I have not known Ed for decades, but it is impossible for me to remember a Sunday where he has not been the first person I saw. He always towered over me, but I always knew my mom and dad loved and trusted him. So, I did too. My earliest memories of Ed begin years ago, at Hazel Dell. Heritage’s children and family pastor (at the time), David, lead several VBS-style “camps” on-site. One of these was sports-themed, and I remember being excited to get up every morning to go.
The reality was that I was physically challenged in a way that meant I could not be as engaged or athletic as the other kids. Of course, I didn’t notice or care, I signed up for everything and loved every moment. I wasn’t raised to fixate on can’s or cant’s. It was more than that, however. It wasn’t just my joy or background that erased my awareness of my challenges at that camp. It was Ed Vickers.
He was one of the coaches who would lead small groups before we gathered for snacks and worship in the auditorium. Specifically, Ed led the basketball “team” at the camp. You can see him in the picture, joyfully leading some rowdy kids. I’m in the back, barely big enough to hold a basketball, and loving it.
I couldn’t move as fast as everyone else, and I couldn’t make baskets. I certainly could not make a slam dunk and listen to other kids my age make a racket and celebrate it with me. I was perfectly content to watch and be with my friends, even if I couldn’t do what they could. Or could I?
I did because Ed Vickers, without any hesitation, knowing what challenges I faced, lifted me to reach the little hoop just out of reach. I only remember feeling hot and tired, but full of joy because I dunked the ball. I remember him celebrating me that entire day — that whole week of the camp. That was when he started to call me “All-Star.” Every Sunday — every service — every time I saw me. From the time I was a little boy until I became a young man, that was one of my names.
That didn’t come from pity, or because I was the pastor’s son, but because Ed loved big and only knew how to be generous, in word and in action. I grew up knowing about Ed’s delight in giving, and his assertions that God truly loved and rewarded the generous, cheerful giver. I remember his special affection and attention towards our pastors during Pastor’s Appreciation Month.
I knew about his deep love for worship — it was easy to spot him busting a move near the entrance, clapping his strong hands with a massive grin. I knew that in his hometown, he had a day named after him, because of the life he lived before the Lord (For the record, every day at Heritage is Ed Vickers Day, so we win). I have profoundly fond memories of Fish Fry, year after year, as Ed took strides to break Jesus’ record. I know that Heaven delighted in the depths of Ed Vickers’ kindness.
He did these things because he loved people and loved to give his time and energy. There was no “just” for Ed when it came to his generosity. It wasn’t “just church” or “just giving” or “just food”, it was an act of worship from deep within. Whether it was coming to church every service, or remembering to celebrate a little blond-haired boy every time he saw him, Ed Vickers freely scattered all of his gifts.
I will miss hearing his life-filled voice boom whenever he spotted me. I know that I am not the only one who will feel a bittersweet joy when I walk into Heritage from now on. Jesus will not let that legacy fade. because of his faith, Ed’s righteousness will endure forever, and his horn will be raised high in honor of his life.
Ed, I hope that I can pursue a life fueled by generosity for the sake of our Lord, and for the sake of everyone I meet. Your life was blessed in every avenue because you pursued this kind of self-giving love. You never stopped talking about how much good a generous spirit will do, because you knew firsthand what that meant. I will miss greeting you every Sunday morning, and smiling when you call me out from across a hall or a parking lot. I’m sad that the space you filled so well is empty in this life, but that Heaven is full to bursting with joy. I know that Jesus calls you “good and faithful”, and for more reasons than I could count.
— All Star