“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15
I entered high school with a new depth of hunger for the Word of God. Having just discovered that the God of the universe could intercept my life through it’s pages, I was starving for more. I walked into Sunday School with a million questions and a determination to track down those with the answers. To my delight, my new Sunday School teacher didn’t seem annoyed with my questions, but rather delighted to answer them. Hallelujah! Toni Peeler was an answer to prayer.
I made it a regular habit to stay after class barraging Mrs. Peeler and her husband with questions. The joy she had in entertaining these lively discussions made her a safe place to bring my thoughts. And so, I kept asking and kept sharing. Unwilling to end our after-class conversations, I often caused our discussion to continue while we walked from the youth building to “big church.” Those walks are my favorite memories.
Throughout my high school years, she was readily available to listen, to teach, and encourage me. As a graduation gift, she hoped to equip me to study the Bible on my own more. After spending some time in the local Christian bookstore, she decided to get me an early edition of Logos Bible software. That summer, I spent hours a day devouring the Word with my laptop open.
Toni was tremendously impactful in my life. So today, hearing of her death, I am filled with a profound mixture of sadness and joy. My dear Mrs. Peeler has entered the rest of God’s presence. Her faith has become sight as she beholds the beauty of the Lord on this perfect April day.
Now why should you care? For most reading this, you have no idea who she is. She hasn’t written a library of books like Beth Moore and didn’t care for hundreds of orphans like Amy Carmichael. But let me make a case for why you should care: she was faithful in the little things.
We are too often overly impressed with the “big” ministries of “famous” Christians and give too little weight to the “average, small and unseen” ministry of faithful saints. So in the wake of Toni’s death, I beg you to consider the humble faithfulness of one of your sisters in the faith. She did not set out the change the world, but rather to serve God with joy all the days of her life.
If you have been impacted at all by what I’ve written, then you should know she is partly responsible. Toni saw in me a small spark of passion for God’s Word, and she took the time to fan it into a flame. Small decisions with eternal impact: Answering questions. Spending time finding out answers she didn’t know. Allowing herself to be inconvenienced by a curious teenager. Buying Bible software to fuel the hunger she saw.
The spark that existed in that 15 year old girl has now turned into a raging fire. My burning desire to this day is to teach other women the Word of God, to equip them to know God through sitting with those pages, meditating on those words. I daily long for more hours in the day to pour over the Bible and to equip others to do the same.
Because of Toni’s obedience in my teenage years, my life is different. To the world, she might not have made an impact. But to me, she did change the world. She changed my world, and equipped me to an agent of change in the lives of those around me.
Thank you Toni. Thank you for your faithfulness, for your kindness, for your willingness to be inconvenienced, for your little acts of obedience to the Lord. They are paying huge dividends now for the Kingdom of God. My story is only one of the thousands that you touched. May you rejoice today as you see how your faithfulness is still changing the lives of others, even after your race is finished.
Will you be faithful in the small things? Will you make small investments in the lives of those around you? You have no idea what God will do with your humble and joyful obedience. Don’t seek to change the world, determine to love God and love others. That and that alone is a life well spent.
To God be the glory.