June 20, 2021
"WHO DA GUY?"
Rev. Danette Kong
“Who da guy?”
It’s a phrase we use in our local version of pidgin English to ask, “Who is that person?” In different settings, the meaning of that phrase changes with the pitches and gestures we use. For example, let’s say you go to a beach or a park, and you see that someone has been there before you, and left behind a lot of their trash strewn all over the place. So, you shake your head and ask: “Who da guy wen’ do dis?” (“Who is the person who did this?”)
Or maybe, someone does something which really rubs you the wrong way. “Who da guy t’ink HE is?” you might ask (“Who does he think he is?”). I know some of you have felt that way at one time or another.
And there is a common situation – let’s say you’re at a party (or even at church) – when a stranger enters the room, and you simply want to know who that is, so you point him out to your friend and ask: “Eh…who da guy ovah dea?” (“Who is that person over there?”) It’s a little different if the stranger strikes a very impressive presence, or has a lot of charm and charisma, or is what we might refer to as “one handsome buggah,” and you can tell it’s someone you’d really like to get to know better. Instead of a simple, “Who da guy?” you might change your inflections a bit and ask, “Ooh..Who DAT guy?”
This is something like what the disciples were marveling at on that boat out in the middle of the sea: this friend of theirs, Jesus, had just told the stormy sea to calm down, and what happened? The wind and the waves OBEYED him! So, these disciples were asking -- Who DAT guy? This was not the guy they were used to “hanging out” with. THIS guy had seemingly magical powers on a whole different level. Their perception of DAT GUY – Jesus – was changed in those moments on the boat.
Let’s go down a different path with this thought…When you awaken in the morning, you may have a special routine. Maybe, before you even get out of your bed, you are saying a prayer of gratitude, or anticipating your schedule for the day. Maybe, you go let the dogs out, or grab a cup of coffee and go sit on your lanai, or maybe you run to the shower. Perhaps you turn on your radio or television, or check Facebook. But at some point, we all encounter a…MIRROR. And when you look in that mirror, WHO DAT GUY? WHO DAT WAHINE? Sometimes, what we see in that mirror is a little scary.
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?
You might wonder on occasion, “How do other people experience me? What are other people’s expectations of me?”
But beyond what everyone else sees in your exterior life – how you look, where you live, how you dress, what you do, what kind of car you drive, how you relate with others -- Beyond all that, WHO ARE YOU, DEEP DOWN INSIDE? WHO IS THE PERSON YOU REALLY KNOW YOURSELF TO BE? WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE ABOUT YOURSELF?
In the Biblical account about David and Goliath, Robin read about a young shepherd boy who possessed absolutely NO military experience. He’d never worn heavy armor or shields or helmets before; but everyone else expected him to wear battle garments that are much too big for him. And, when he declined all that protective gear, I am guessing a lot of soldiers were thinking, WHO DAT GUY? -- WHO DAT HOTSHOT who nevah t’ink he need one helmet for protection?
But David stayed true to his experiences and identity as a simple shepherd boy. He carried with him the MEMORIES of protecting his flock with his own bare hands against lions and bears; he carried the memories and EXPERIENCE of using the simple tool of a slingshot. Those experiences in his life prepared him for the unknown situation of facing the giant – hey! If he could kill a fierce lion with his bare hands, then knocking down a Philistine probably felt like a piece of cake!
When I was 28 years old, I went through a devastating personal experience that shook me to the core. I was paralyzed by the emotions that welled up within me. I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to stop weeping, or find my way out of what felt like a long, dark tunnel. One day my mother confronted me, and stopped me in my tracks. She said something to me that day which has proven to be true through all the decades since. She said, very compassionately, “You know, Danette – you are 28 years old, and what you are going through IS a very difficult situation. But you are still young, and there are many years ahead of you. There will be even more difficult things to come. This is minor, compared to what you are probably going to face in the future.”
Well, I didn’t respond to her out loud, but let me tell you what I was thinking at that point: “OH, GREAT, I thought – thanks, Mom. That’s just what I wanted to hear. How could things possibly get any worse?”
But you know what? The years have passed, and I HAVE had worse, more difficult experiences. And each time, the situations I have survived have made me stronger for the gigantic experiences which followed. They have not only taught me new lessons about LIFE – they have taught me more about WHO I AM, and WHO I CAN BE. I’ve been able to look back on that time when I was 28 years old and realize THAT EXPERIENCE back then was one of my LIONS…and I SURVIVED.
If we take time to look in the mirror and SERIOUSLY ask ourselves, “WHO DAT GUY?,” or, “WHO DAT WAHINE?,” we can take time to probe deeply into our memories. We can recognize who we have been. We know what we are capable of surviving, and what we are made of. We CAN know who we are and WHO WE CAN BE.
Now, the thing about David is that he didn’t just rely upon those memories and experiences to face the giant – HE COUNTED UPON GOD. David did not know fear in that situation, because he trusted God to never leave him. He trusted God to use whatever experiences and memories David had to bring about victory. WHO DA GUY, DAVID? David knew who he was, and more importantly, he knew who God IS.
WHO DO YOU THINK WE ARE?
As individuals, families, and as a church, we have all been affected by what is happening politically, and by the impact of the pandemic. We have much with which to be concerned. As a church, we recognize that our membership is aging. Our neighborhood around this church is changing. The economy is shifting. We have been going through some very uncertain times, and there WILL be more difficult days ahead. We could certainly find ourselves shying away from the future with FEAR.
But we have also grown in picking up new experiences and expanding the way we think about what it means to be CHURCH, and what it means to be followers of Christ. As part of the Pastoral Search Committee’s hard work and efforts, this congregation has been taking the time to REMEMBER who we have been…And, we are learning to DEFINE AND REDEFINE ourselves in preparation for what lies ahead. Are we going to allow Fear to encroach upon our understanding of who we can be?
Let’s go back to the passage of Scripture where we read about the disciples in that boat, out in the storm. They were in panic mode, fearful their boat would be overturned in the storm, and that they would all drown. But meanwhile, as they were all fretting and terrified, where was Jesus? Jesus lay sound asleep, with his head on his pillow, and with seemingly not a care in the world.
There is a wonderful Hawaiian phrase that I have come across which provides a description for this lack of fear:
HULI KE ALO I KA PAIA (Turn the face to the wall) It’s a Hawaiian proverb with the underlying meaning that there is nothing to fear. The imagery depicts one who goes to sleep with her face to the wall, because she has confidence in her safety.
One of my good friends spent nearly 20 years in a federal prison. While incarcerated, she developed the habit of always being vigilant. To this day, if she enters a room, she always keeps her back to the wall. Her eyes and instincts are constantly scanning the room for any sign of approaching danger. She has difficulty sleeping, or even, standing awake with her face to the wall.
Someone who has no worries or fears is able to turn their face to the wall, because they are not afraid of what might approach them from behind.
HULI KE ALO I KA PAIA (Turn the face to the wall). There is nothing to fear.
In the bottom of that boat on the sea, Jesus slept soundly, because HE KNEW WHO HE was, and WHO GOD IS. He had nothing to fear.
And I can only imagine, that is exactly the way that David slept – without fear, because he knew who he was. He knew what he had already survived in life, and who God is. He went into the battle against Goliath knowing who HE was, and who God is, AND GOD GAVE HIM THE VICTORY.
The next time you pass a mirror…I challenge you to take a look at that refection and ask yourself, WHO DAT GUY?, or, WHO DAT WAHINE? Do you KNOW who you are?
Maybe you are facing serious illness or financial hardship. Perhaps you are recognizing the end of a relationship, or the impending death of a parent. Maybe you are starting a new job, or you’ve just graduated. Maybe you are moving to a new home. How are you choosing to face the giant, overwhelming situations in your own life? Can you remember what the LIONS have been in your past, and what you’ve survived? Can you reflect upon the lessons you’ve learned about Life and about yourself? Are you able to recognize God’s presence when you faced the Lions in your past, and can you trust God to help you face the giants of your todays, as well as in your tomorrows?
I invite us all, as individuals, and as a Church, to HULI KE ALO I KA PAIA (Turn the face to the wall), as we recognize who WE are, Who God IS, and WHO WE CAN BE. Amen.