Mr. Holland’s Opus

In 1995, MGM studios released a movie starring Richard Dreyfus called Mr. Holland’s Opus. The movie told the story of a high school music teacher whose sole ambition it was to write a great American symphony. As the story unfolds, viewers enter into this teacher’s lifelong journey with music, experiencing the joys and struggles both within his personal life, and with the students that he teaches and mentors over the years. It doesn’t take long before you begin to realize that at virtually every turn, just when it appears that he might have time to sit down and finish his symphony, another major life event seems to get in the way and his goals end up taking a back seat to his responsibilities.

Toward the end of the movie, Richard Dreyfus has become an old man preparing to retire when he learns that his school’s music program is being canceled as a result of a recent round of state-level budget cuts.  Angry and deeply saddened, the teacher begins to reflect on his life and his failure to meet his life’s goal of writing this great symphony. On his last day in school, as his family helps him to carry his personal belongings out the door, he hears something in the auditorium and walks in to investigate. When he walks through the auditorium doors, he is greeted by a room full of former students, each applauding him as he walks down to the seat of honor in the front of the room. One of his students, now the state governor, steps up to the podium and explains to him that his life has not been a failure, that he did succeed in writing a great American symphony…a symphony composed of the life stories of the students seated throughout the auditorium.

It is interesting, isn’t it…how frequently we overlook all that God has accomplished through our lives because we are so diligently striving to accomplish that one thing that we think will define our success? At some point in your life, you very likely determined for yourself what success would look like. Perhaps it was a type of career or level of achievement within that career, or perhaps it was the kind of home or family that you wanted to have or the region that you wanted to live in. Perhaps it was your net worth or social status within a community. Regardless of what you decided that success would look like in your life, we all have a tendency to set goals for ourselves based on our definition of success.

God is writing a symphony with your life, together with you. That symphony is a light in someone else’s darkness, helping them to see the way forward a bit clearer; their own uniqueness a bit more confidently. That symphony is a ministry of multiplication, reaching a far greater number of people in ways that you might never have anticipated; people who even now are reaching other people in part because of how the symphony of your life has impacted their own. 

Your life has not been wasted. Your symphony is beautiful. Sometimes, you only need to step back and listen to the notes that actually comprise it.

Leave a Reply