I start with sharing my sorrow. I am so deeply saddened by the loss of Father, Husband, Son, Brother, as a result of the premature and horrible death of Perry Inhofe. I last saw Perry in June or July of 1980. Decades ago, I moved from Tulsa, August, 1980, He left for Duke. The summer of 1980, Perry use to come to my home on a regular nearly weekly basis. He was a soph/jr/sr at Edison High school in 1977-1980. During those years I was Perry’s Young Life leader. You heard the name Young Life 4 times during his Memorial Service. The mention of his Young Life leader. And I was the Young Life guy. Perry Inhofe was my friend. I was also involved with Uncle Jim, Aunt Molly, and Aunt Katy. But my young friend Perry and I were together in friendship and fellowship for 3 years I lived in Tulsa. I was there when he met Keith Green, and made a commitment to his Lord.
So by default, I get to be your Young Life leader, if for only a moment. I will take some liberties, my door is always open, and my ear available. And I would like to share with you as I would have shared with Perry had he suffered the loss you now know.\par
Three things I will share.
Hope and Redemption
A Private story that only Perry and I knew. At least I have never shared until now.
GRIEF: First and foremost. Grieve as loudly as you want. Grieve as often as you need. Grieve to heal, Grieve because you need to. Grieve in tears and anger as need be. Grief is so much a part of your process now. Don’t try to rush it, avoid it, or listen to people who tell you to get over it. You will be sad, and lonely, and angry, and bitter. You will experience a depth of feeling like NO other. I can’t imagine it. But my wife died 4 years ago, at age 44 in an unexpected accident…. so I have an idea. Grieve in the quiet of your heart, wail openly if you need. Get Mad. Ask Why. Do not be surprised if you do not get answers immediately. But I promise, you will get answers. I promise even more, that those answers will take time. If you despair, do NOT be alone. Grieving is absolutely critical for your healing process.
I encourage you to express your grief in any way you must, as long as it does not bring harm to you or another. People will come up to you I am sure, because they did when my wife died, and tell you that something good will come of this. Well do not be confused…. the death of your Father was not good, is not good, and you don’t have to listen. Horrible accidents are just that… HORRIBLE accidents. Some day you might see the pattern for good that will appear in your lives… but make NO mistake. Nothing was ever good when my wife drowned in our bathtub. Nothing will ever be good about your Father dying in a plane crash. I will tell you I know that there will be a pattern for good, because God promises there will be a pattern for good. But this is the promise of a sovereign God to His Children. From the Hebrew Scriptures, Numbers 23:19 King James Version (KJV)
19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?.
And from the New Testament. Romans 8:28
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
28 And we know that [a]God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
And this leads me to share about HOPE AND REDEMPTION.
There is hope to be found with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For God is a Glorious God. And as was shared at the service for your Father, there will be times of comfort, and green pastures. As well as the wailing and gnashing of teeth. Do not travel this life alone. Get to know God. He seeks to know you
You know the biggest difference between the old and new Testaments, is the reaction and relationship the man named Jesus. I need not run a philosophy and religion course here. But for thousands of years the nation of Israel awaited a Messiah. For some of us in the world we believe the Messiah arrived and his name was and is Jesus. This is a story I shared with Perry Inhofe in the late 1970’s.
I will not use this as a platform for a lesson in theology. I will tell you the God is a God of Hope and Redemption. I can guarantee that. I know that. I believe that. I shared that with your father. We shared that together on many occasions. And though separated by 3 decades, in the scope of eternity I was with Perry Inhofe only yesterday. In the scope of eternity, 10,000 years is but a day.
You may spend this time asking God why? Why did your father have to die. And my experience will tell you that NO answer will suffice. You will have to become men of faith to find anything that approaches an answer. Faith that God is a sovereign, loving, caring God. God loved and loves still your father. God loves you. I pray that as your father sought, you will seek also.
This life is a life of Hope and Redemption. My prayer is that you will discover that while you are still young. Like your Father.
And Finally a PERSONAL STORY…I met your Grandfather Jim Inhofe during the same 1977-80 time period. He was a newly elected mayor of Tulsa during those years. When your Grandfather shared at the Memorial service what people might some things that folk may or may not know about his son Perry. Jim used the word Private. Perry and I shared many Private moments while in Young Life. And I am happy to share with you a sweet and funny private story that I believe ONLY your father and I knew… well and the policeman who stopped us.. It is a story I remember fondly, and regularly.
I had every intention when I moved back to Tulsa one year ago, to reacquaint with Perry Inhofe and share this story with him again, and laugh. Don’t let anyone tell you thay have NO regrets in life. I should NOT have waited 54 weeks. I so regret having waited to look up my friend Perry Inhofe.. I will see him again on the other side of eternity… but I too will miss laughing with him in a moment of now fellowship.
And now the story. It was the Fall of ’79, after an Edison Football Game, and a stop at some after game hangout, Perry decided he wanted to show me his father’s new airplane. It could well be the plane that Perry learned to fly in, and as I read perhaps Cole also learned in this plane. It was late. Perhaps approaching 11 pm. But Southward we headed, to 81st Street and a hanger at Jones airport.
We entered the property and drove toward a hanger. It was pitch black except for some safety lights on the property.. and the suddenly appearing red and blue rooftop police lights.
We we stopped and questioned. Late night trespassing. Unless of course you pull out your license, Pronounce and spell I-N-H-O-F-E. Well I thought as I chuckled, “the mayor’s kid card” sweet. After a few minutes we went to see the plane. Perry was like a kid in a candy store… and for a moment, the mayor’s kid in the candy store. Like the Cat that ate the Canary. I promised I would not share that story and well, I am glad now that I can break that promise. I sure it would have been Perry approved had I sought him out.
I sorrow in your sorrow. I grieve in your grief. And when the time is appropriate I will laugh with you in his memory. I loved Perry Inhofe, and in the shadow of eternity, it was like yesterday.
I miss your Father.
“The eternal God is our dwelling place and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Duet. 33:37) For God’s presence and control we can be thankful and rejoice.