Will Daniel Ellerman is turning 19 on the 15th. Our fourth of five grandchildren and he was uniquely born with Down Syndrome. Before you say, O, I’m so sorry, DON’T! The only reason you would be led to think or say that is because you have never met him. For those who have, reflect on what a blessing he has been to you. He is in the category of ‘special needs’. As his mom, Becky, would say; we all have ‘special needs’. But the word special certainly describes Will, in so many ways.
Will was born with a different name. But on the third day, as he was being kept alive on a high frequency ventilator, with virtually no hope in sight, Becky and Brad turned and entrusted him to God for whatever He wanted to do in this. They gave this declaration; “Thy will be done”, and asked that his name be changed to “Will” to testify that Will’s life was in the Lord’s everlasting hands, to use how He desired, whether for a moment or longer…for Becky and Brad, that was a defining moment.
Psalm 139.13-18 was claimed upon his birth. You see, he had a hole in his heart, his lungs were restricted. The doctors said at the end of the first week of his life that each day should have been his last. But God had other plans. And are we eternally grateful! Just ask his three siblings-Luke, Sarah Peyton and Annie-or his younger cousin, Renzo, as to how he has impacted their lives.
What is the heart of this Psalm? “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…my frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” (NIV) God is Sovereign, he makes no mistakes, and he sure didn’t with Will.
You will notice that his middle name is Daniel. What comes to mind when you think about Daniel? An escapee by God’s grace from a den of hungry lions, and much more! Will has experienced many trials and his family has suffered with and for him along the way. But God’s grace has been sufficient and continues to be. These have shaped our family and our deeper relationship with Christ.
Will can relate to Paul. I’m sure they will spend a lot of time in eternity sharing stories and praising the Savior. Paul asked for God to remove his ‘thorn in the flesh’ three times. But what God assured him was that his grace was going to be sufficient.
During the first few hours of Will’s life, after prayers with family and notifying friends by phone to join in with us, I sought time alone with God there in Presbyterian Hospital. I pleaded for him to give me a truth that I could place my trust in and cling to. Maybe you have been there also. Well, he delivered. I was led to Psalm 27.13,14 (NKJV). “I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”
The goodness and mercy of God
Have I, has his family, have countless others, seen this goodness? You bet; in spades!! Will has a pure undefiled love for Jesus, he has a servant’s heart, he has a mind like a steel trap—and a sense of humor that will keep you laughing for hours. He is simply an amazing work of God’s art. If he meets you once, your name is embedded in his memory. His prayers are special; childlike, simple but refreshing. You just know that the Father makes a special point of turning his ear toward Will when he prays.
What Will’s life really does is make us consciously aware of the goodness and mercy of God, our heavenly Father. While I/we stand amazed at his life so far, what it really does is point us to his even more amazing Lord and Savior. Will loves his family, his friends; and if you met him, he would start loving you. That’s just how God knit him, right there in his mother’s womb. And all of us are eternally grateful that this young special lad was placed in our lives. Each of us has been moved closer to Christ because of his life. Thank you, Will; praise you, Lord.