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In My Time of Dying

By February 14, 2014 No Comments


In my time of dying, want nobody to mourn 
All I want for you to do is take my body home 
Well, well, well, so I can die easy  
Jesus, gonna make up my dyin’ bed. 
Meet me, Jesus, meet me. Meet me in the middle of the air 
If my wings should fail me, Lord. Please meet me with another pair 

Oh, Saint Peter, at the gates of heaven… Won’t you let me in 
I never did no harm. I never did no wrong 
Oh, Gabriel, let me blow your horn. Let me blow your horn 
Oh, I never did, did no harm. 
I’ve only been this young once. I never thought I’d do anybody no wrong 
No, not once. 

Oh, I did somebody some good. Somebody some good… 
Oh, did somebody some good. I must have did somebody some good… 
Oh, I believe I did
I see the smiling faces
I know I must have left some traces
And I see them in the streets 
And I see them in the field 
And I hear them shouting under my feet 
And I know it’s got to be real 
Oh, Lord, deliver me 
All the wrong I’ve done 
You can deliver me, Lord 
I only wanted to have some fun. 
Hear the angels marchin’, hear the’ marchin’, hear them marchin’, 
hear them marchin’, the’ marchin’ 
Oh my Jesus…  
Oh, don’t you make it my dyin’, dyin’, dyin’


This past week my friend’s father died. It was unexpected and in some ways tragic. Sure, he was in his eighties, but nobody saw it coming. I got an email one night from my friend telling me he died. I was fortunate this past summer to meet him—a big personality in a small frame. We were in Chicago eating food and catching a Cubs game so we bunked out at his house. The next morning he came down to greet us with a mischievous grin and a giant belt buckle. I’m grateful for that brief meeting—he’s the type of person that, regardless of how short the encounter, you’re glad you met him.

Grief manifests itself in a variety of ways. My buddy and I usually grab a quick smoke break in-between classes—philosophizing out on the side walk on a variety of topics. This past week we talked about his dad, about the funeral, and all the ways he’s going to notice his father is gone. He told me that his dad loved Jazz music so as the casket was taken out of the church the brass broke into “When the Saints Go Marching In” New Orleans style. It’s what his dad wanted. From my very brief encounter with him… it makes sense. 

For the past few weeks I’ve been obsessed with the Led Zeppelin live album that recently won them a grammy—the reunion show they played in London in 2007-2008. One song in particular grabs me… its the one I play over and over when I’m reading emails or preparing a class presentation. “In my Time of Dying” is a well known remake of an old African American blues song, picked up by Bob Dylan, and then done by Led Zeppelin. This past week when I listened to it I thought about my friend’s dad. Sure, the lyrics may not be “reformed”—they don’t fit the Kuyperian “brand” in which I live and breathe. To be honest—I don’t care. Not that I doubt the importance of orthodoxy, but when it comes to the issues of suffering and death I’m not sure orthodoxy is the most important thing. So on this Valentines Day I dedicate this blog to the memory of my friend’s dad, to large belt buckles, and to someone playing Led Zeppelin at my funeral. 

Jason Lief

Jason Lief teaches Practical Theology at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. He served as editor of Reformed Journal for many years and was one of the original bloggers on the RJ blog. You can find more of his writing at

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