Lessons from Mr. Holland's Opus
Have you ever watched a movie that touched you to the core?
I've had a few. One that pops in my head is Mr. Holland's Opus. Mr. Holland, played by Richard Dreyfuss, in the final climactic scene, conducts a group of students from year's past in his final Opus before forced retirement. All during his years of teaching music to high school students, Mr. Holland dreamed of writing his own great symphony for the public and becoming famous. It never happened. His dream was not realized. However, one of his former students, Gertrude Lang, had this to say to Mr. Holland in a surprise celebration of his life and teaching career:
"Mr. Holland had a profound influence on my life and on a lot of lives I know. But I have a feeling that he considers a great part of his own life misspent. Rumor had it he was always working on this symphony of his. And this was going to make him famous, rich, probably both. But Mr. Holland isn't rich and he isn't famous, at least not outside of our little town. So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure. But he would be wrong, because I think that he's achieved a success far beyond riches and fame. Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony, Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life."
Those lines grabbed my heart, and does today. You see, I'm over 50 years old. I myself had dreams in the past of doing great things. I thought I would travel the world as a journalist at one point. At another, point, I thought I would be a famous writer or sports broadcaster or missionary. However, family responsibilities and the hardships of life instead brought me back to my hometown. In fact, I returned to the land I grew up, now living only 300 yards from the house I was raised in, taking care of my widowed Dad.
There are times I look at my life and think of opportunities lost, of little money or possessions to show for years of hard work. I look ahead to my years with great uncertainty as to what I am supposed to do. I look back with sadness and ahead with some fear.
Until I think of Mr. Holland's Opus.
You see, God led me on a different path than the one I had planned. He led me to work with teenagers and young adults over the past 30 years. He also led me to a wonderful wife and two amazing sons. I look back over all these years and see that, while I've never written a bestselling book with a pen, God has allowed me to write into the stories of many lives. I have gotten to intersect with many amazing young men and women and share as best I can the amazing story of God's restoration for a hurting world. I've failed many times, but God has kept pouring His grace in and through me.
What's your story? What are your dreams left unfulfilled? The world tells you to grab YOUR dreams. I want to tell you to think of a bigger dream...a bigger Opus...a grander story.
It's God's story, and we get to be a part of it. WE are His symphony. WE are the melodies and the notes of His great and grand opus of hope and healing.
It is quite enough I get to be a part of His symphony...of HIS story.
So now as I look back, my sadness turns to gladness. As I look forward, my fear turns to anticipation.
My encouragement to you and myself is to go to bed each night knowing we are eternally loved and wake up each morning excited we get to be a part of God's grand story. Embrace each day as new notes in His symphony! Lean into each encounter as chapters in His restorative plan. Finally, trust that through His Spirit our lives are weaving together a tapestry of hope and healing even through our weakness and mistakes, because God is that great and God is that good!
It's amazing how much a movie can inspire!
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