An Old Question
As a student at the University of Arkansas in the late 1980s—a journalism major headed to law school—David Peel had a lot figured out. An officer in his fraternity, president of the advertising club, he was known for his keen mind.
But he also had a lot of questions. And they weren’t easily adjudicated.
For anyone who has wrestled with spiritual matters (and everyone has), the biggest question was all too familiar: If God is all good and all powerful, why does He allow bad things to happen to innocent people?
“I cut out a newspaper article about something that happened in a brownstone in New York City. An infant was cast down a trash chute. I would say to anyone who tried to convince me there was a God, ‘This was an innocent, helpless, powerless child. Only God could intervene, and yet He allowed that pain. There was no purpose. This tragedy was not witnessed by another human soul. How could there be a good God?”
Because no one could answer his gut-wrenching questions, David considered himself an atheist, until he got so sick of the questions, and so sick of his own way of living, that he cried out to God Himself for answers.
David, who refers to himself at that point as an “overachiever in the party world,” remembers coming into the fraternity from IHOP at 3 a.m. to find two guys “worshiping a burning couch.” While the scene was amusing, David recognized he too believed in an empty philosophy.
He remembers skipping class one day, sitting in his room, and being very alone and quiet. “I said out loud, ‘I’m sick of all these questions. Sick of needing answers. If there is a way I could have answers or be like these guys who don’t seem to need answers, I would do it. God, if you’re real, you can do that, and I’ll do whatever you say.”
No, David did not hear the audible voice of God, but moments later there was a knock at the door. A guy he’d never seen before stuck his head in and asked, “Can you tell me why I’m here?” The young man, a Christian named Scott, had been walking across campus and “had to come here” he said. He asked David, “What were you doing when I knocked?”
“I guess I was praying,” David said.
“Okay. What were you praying about?”
As David outlined his spiritual dilemma, Scott said simply, “I think you’re ready.”
“Ready for what?”
“Ready to get saved.”
A New Life
Like the story of Philip who was obedient to witness to the Ethiopian eunuch (see Acts 8), Scott appeared at the very moment David was crying out for understanding. “I knew in my knower that what he was saying was true,” David said.
Made right with God for the first time in his life, David did an about-face in his lifestyle. He soon gave up drinking entirely and transformed from social chairman to being nominated as house chaplain. He graduated early and moved to Memphis for law school. He immediately found a church with a pastor who spoke straight from the Bible, Bellevue Baptist Church. He was baptized by Pastor Adrian Rogers in 1991 and was ordained as a deacon a few years later at the age of 29. He has been a member of the Love Worth Finding Board of Directors for a decade.
“Adrian Rogers was an intelligent man, a man’s man, and I respected that,” David said. “He was logical and spoke as he understood, though he would admit he didn’t understand everything. Most of all, God just totally got on his life in such a way that he was challenging, called, powerful. He used to say, ‘God came up on me and he never left.’ And I could see that.”
God called David Peel to witness for Him, to work as an attorney, and to build a family. Now 54, David and his wife, Trish, have three children and a grandson.
A Thoughtful Answer
When skeptics ask the question that plagued David in his youth, he responds:
“When I was teaching my kids to ride a bike, I’d hold them up and run along behind them. I knew with utter certainty that when I turned loose, once they recognized I was no longer holding them up they would wobble and fall. I didn’t want them to crash, but I allowed it for a greater purpose.
“As horrible as that scene of the baby in the dumpster was, as horrible as Auschwitz was, as horrible as it was that Romans dipped Christians in wax and lit them on fire to illuminate their gardens …there is something greater at work. We have limited senses. We live within a limited picture. But God’s wrath is building, and He will set things right.”
David also asks skeptics to explain how they know something is good or evil and where their view of justice came from. “Atheists believe in survival of the fittest, so it’s logical to assume that the most ruthless person is the best human being.” But we know instinctively that’s morally wrong. The skeptic, then, is nagged by his own conscience…an inborn sense of right and wrong, of good and evil, that can only be explained by objective truth and morality.
As God leads, David shares his faith with others. “My job is to share when I’m led to share. I’m not led to everyone, and sometimes I’m led to be silent. If someone will not admit the possibility that truth exists and that it is knowable, you have no place to start a logical discussion.”
But when he is led to share, he says, he must. “Every saved person had another human being who shared with him at some cost or personal sacrifice the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One plants, another waters, another harvests. Who among us has not been shared with? It would be the height of selfishness not to share with others.”
An Unexpected Reunion
For years David wondered about the young man, introduced only by the first name Scott, who had shared Christ with him as an undergraduate. Like Philip in Ethiopia, Scott had disappeared. Until three years ago:
“I got an email through Linked In,” David said. Turns out Scott, who had worked in various locations throughout the country, had been transferred to an office next door to David’s law office in Millington, TN. The two went to lunch and talked about college days. And this time it was David’s turn to follow God’s lead. As he told Scott about the impact he had had on his life, Scott was encouraged to continue sharing his faith.
May we all be so encouraged…until Christ returns.