Hamilton in the Summer of 2020

“In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere.” – Ephesians 4:1-3 MSG

Like it has for many others, the summer of 2020 has been an interesting one for my family and me. Filled with difficult moments but, thankfully, some unexpected joyfulness, we have done our best to endure the difficult time and have come together more tightly as a family as a result. One of the truly bright spots we were blessed with was a night in our back yard where we watched the musical Hamilton on a projector and a makeshift screen made out of a bed sheet. The lyrics have been echoing through our house since the first viewing, to the delight of all of us.

Unfortunately we didn’t have the chance to see Hamilton in the theater in NYC when it made its original run (too poor) nor have we been able to get tickets here in our hometown when it came through (too slow). So we were very excited to see it for the first time when it premiered on Disney Plus, and of course we were blown away. It was amazing, beautiful; an incomprehensible (at least for me anyway) work of art. How someone can write a 3-hour story like that, set almost entirely to music, and weave the music through it in a way that adds to the story is pure brilliance.

My family, and especially my son, is now obsessed with it. He loves it so much. With every viewing he picks up on something different and I can just see his 9-year-old mind grabbing the thread of each new number and pulling at those threads to get to an understanding of whom Hamilton was and what was going on historically at that time. He asks me a new question each time we watch it. Not only has Hamilton kindled the history lover in him, but it has also sparked the theatre bug in him. It has been a gift to us in so many ways, the most important of which is opening up new pathway of communication between my son and me.

Among the many bold and beautifully written songs in the show is one entitled “My Shot”. There is a line in the song which, on first hearing it, seems to be mostly a throwaway line. But as a man of faith it jumped out at me. Not just because of the line, which I’ll quote in a minute, but because it was part of a larger song about seizing your moment to create something bigger than yourself. In a song about grabbing opportunity, the line comes at a point where each character has essentially introduced himself to the audience, expressing a few of the gifts that he brought to the larger mission of fighting for freedom. The implication is that the ammunition that will win the war is the individual gifts of each character (fearlessness, strength, intellect) all tied together at the center by Hamilton and his gift for oration. The line says, “What are the odds that God would put us all in one spot?” The implication to me is pretty straightforward, that God must have put those men together at that moment in time for a reason. The further implication is that the “reason” is to begin to take the first steps towards fighting for freedom from tyranny and birthing the American democracy.

And while I will never likely find myself in a moment quite so grand, I do take inspiration from the idea that at some point in each of our lives God gives us our “shot”. And I am beginning to believe very deeply that we owe it to God in those moments where he is clearly showing up in our lives to run as fast as we can in the direction that he is telling us to go. That goes against my super contemplative personality but it’s a trust factor with God that if we have a good relationship with him we know to trust him. Building that good relationship is so important so that when he does show up and tell us to run in a direction we can start running without asking any questions. And run QUICKLY in that direction, to boot. There is an Aaron Burr in all of us, content to “wait it out” as life presents us new challenge after new challenge.

While most of us will never be put in a position to have to die for what we believe in, as Hamilton did, we still do have to be willing to let those pieces of ourselves die that don’t honor God. That is our calling.

I believe that God gave me my “shot” during this pandemic. In a moment when so many social constructs and weights were lifted off my shoulders due to the tragedy of the pandemic, I was freed by the lack of social weight to chase creative dreams that I had desired for many years. I took up the guitar, began writing again, and started drawing as therapy. Not to mention my favorite so far: I helped to start a podcast.

There are millions out of work, sick or suffering, or just scared of all the unrest, both social, political or health related. And there but for the grace of God go I. But until God sends me in another direction, I am going to run as swiftly and as confidently in the direction that God is sending me, not knowing how it will turn out, but knowing that no matter how it turns out he will be there with me and for me.

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