One of the most enjoyable and inspiring movies I have ever watched is Mr. Holland’s Opus. It came out about 20 years ago.
Mr. Holland aspired to be a great music composer in his life. But because of various circumstances, he ended up teaching music to high school students. It was a job he really didn’t like at first. He, however, gradually grew to like teaching and appreciate his students.
But he never lost the dream or the itch to create a great music composition. He was gifted ………Through much of the movie, which spans his entire teaching career, he is working on this masterpiece. I think his dream was to have it played by some of the great orchestras of the world.
A Life That Really Mattered
By the end of his working life, he was not able to see this dream totally fulfilled. But he accomplished something even more significant. At his surprise retirement party, we see all the students he had impacted over the years,,,,,,,,,,,,The students that came to love music who couldn’t care less for it at first. The students who learned to play musical instruments well who couldn’t play well at first. The students who developed courage and fortitude through the influence of Mr. Holland in their lives.
At his retirement party, we see many of his former music students playing the musical composition that he had worked on throughout his life. He didn’t have it played by the great orchestras in the world nor seen it played on Broadway, but it was being played by those people whom he grew to love and appreciate, his students.
As Mr. Holland is listening to his “great” musical composition being played by his former students, he realizes the great impact he has had on his students’ lives. His “Great Opus”, his “Great Work”, was the way he helped mold the lives of these young people for good.
As I was watching the conclusion of this movie, it really struck me that this is how God often works in our lives and through our lives. Many times, God’s working is imperceptible and not readily apparent at the given moment. But over time, the result or fruit of God’s working is significant.
A Long Obedience In The Same Direction
As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to remind ourselves often of Ephesians 2:10. This great word from the Lord says “(We) are God’s workmanship .(i. e. masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do”. The reason we need to keep reminding ourselves of this verse, is that we often don’t feel like masterpieces. We wonder if God is really using us in any significant way. It is easy to get discouraged in a world system that often tries to put the Lord on the periphery of its everyday workings.
Mr. Holland’s Opus was not an explicitly Christian movie. Nonetheless, it expressed some powerful Christian themes. Mr. Holland chose to be faithful to his students, to his wife and to his deaf son. At one point in the movie, one of Mr. Holland’s former students comes back as a young lady and tries to seduce him. She has just landed a big role in Theater, I think it was Broadway. and she comes to her former music teacher and tries to persuade him to come with her. Maybe Mr. Holland will finally get his great musical composition played on Broadway.
Mr. Holland is able to rebuff this great temptation and remains faithful to his wife. Mr. Holland’s life ended up being a weighty life………a life of substance………a life of glory, that in the end greatly out weighed the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and Broadway.
Eugene Peterson in his book “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction”, quotes Fredrick Nietzsche: “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.” Even though Nietzsche was no friend of Christianity, he penned a profound truth here.
There has always been a cost involved in being faithful to the Lord in this world. But in the long run, the cost of NOT being faithful has always been greater. We lose out on so much…..we lose out on God’s best for our lives.
Let me leave you with these words of encouragement from 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
QOTD: Are you committed to walking with Jesus in the same direction for the long haul, trusting Him to work what is good and glorious, even when He seems to be absent?