"But you, gird up your loins; stand up and tell them everything that I command you. Do not break down before them, or I will break you before them." - Jeremiah 1: 17-18
"Gird up your loins!" Chances are you've run across that in the Bible more than once. If not you've really been missing out. Rarely do we have the opportunity to use "gird" and "loins" in the same sentence. Nowadays we say "Put on your big boy/girl pants!" but it means the same thing.
In the ancient Near East, long flowing tunics were common dress. Around the tunic, people wore a belt also known as a girdle. Before men and women did any hard labor or went charging into battle they would hike up all the fabric below their, uh, loins and tie it off with the girdle for more freedom of movement as well as support where men need it most. Sorry, but that's biblical.
Occasionally the Bible testifies to a God who is all comfort and cuddles, footprints in the sand and all that. More often, the God of the Bible gives us a kick in the pants and barks, "Who said life would be easy! Gird your loins! Suit up! Woman up! Get on the field and make something happen! Face that problem like an adult!"
But the coda to both is the same: "Fear not, for I am with you. Be not afraid for I am your God."
God, for everything there is a time and a season: a time to gird and a time to give it all over to you. Grant me the wisdom to know the difference, the courage to do it and the faith to trust in your steadfast presence. Amen.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.