the shape of leadership

A Plan and a Purpose

Trusting God when life doesn’t make sense

Dorsey Ross on October 29, 2019

My parents were not planning to have another child. They already had two daughters, aged 16 and 21, when my mom went to the doctor and found out she was pregnant again. What they didn’t know was that their child would be born with Apert syndrome, a congenital birth defect that causes skeletal abnormalities, especially in the head, hands and feet.

When I was born, my forehead jutted outward, my eyes and nose were pushed back into my head, and my fingers and toes were fused together. Doctors told my parents I had no skull opening and no room for my brain to grow. They predicted I would eventually become brain dead.

The best plan, the doctors said, was to put me in an institution. On hearing this, my dad took a walk to pray and ask God what to do. As he prayed, my father sensed the Holy Spirit saying to him, “Be still.”

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way we expected. We may wonder why God allows trials and tribulations to come, and where He is when it hurts.

I have been in that place. I have asked why many times. Why — if God is a loving and caring God — would He make me the way He did? The greatest theological answer I can come up with is simply this: I don’t know why. I do know, however, that God has a plan and a purpose for my life.

We all face struggles and setbacks. In John 16:33, Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Sometimes we need this reminder.

Growing up, I endured bullying because of my appearance. Other kids picked on me and called me names like “monster” and “freak.” At the age of 13, I gave my life to Christ, accepting Him as my Lord and Savior. As I grew in faith, I realized we live in a fallen world.

I discovered from Scripture that when I was in my mother’s womb, God was creating and forming me. And I came to accept that I can’t understand everything. When the answers to my questions elude me, my task is to be still and trust God.

When the answers to my questions elude me, my task is to be still and trust God.

There have been times when I felt like giving up. There have been times when the enemy told me I wasn’t going to make it, and that I should just end my life. Thankfully, I didn’t listen to the enemy, and you shouldn’t either. God has great plans and a purpose for your life, just as He has for mine.

As is common with Apert syndrome, I have a speech impediment. I had to attend speech classes as a teenager, which I hated. At the time, it seemed like a waste of time. I felt my speech impediment was just a part of who I was. Looking back, I’m glad I went to those classes. Although my speech isn’t perfect, that process did help me learn to communicate more clearly.

Similarly, sometimes I can look back on a trial and see that God was working through it and that the process was valuable. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” I am convinced that God has plans, a hope and a future for each person He creates.

My senior year in high school, I had to meet with a teacher about my post-graduation plans. This teacher told me I would never make it in college. Nevertheless, I enrolled at a two-year community college. It took me four years to finish, but I persevered. I then spent five years at the University of Valley Forge in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, graduating with a degree in youth ministry.

Though the doors to youth ministry never opened, I kept praying and seeking God for what He wanted for my life. During that time, I received an invitation to give my testimony at an outreach event at Bellerose Assembly of God in New York.

Since that time, I have been traveling and speaking at churches across the country, telling my story and encouraging others that they, too, can make the life God has given them the fullest it can be.

Regardless of what you are going through, God has a plan and a purpose for you. Take it from a guy who was supposed to be brain dead, a guy with a speech impediment who is now a communicator for the living God.

Romans 8:28, says “And we know that for those who love God all things works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Despite what my parents and I were told about the quality of my life and what I would be able to do, I have chosen to let God use me.

Can’t isn’t in my vocabulary, and it shouldn’t be in yours. If God has a plan for my life, you can be sure He has a plan for yours as well.

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