A Magnum Opus
A recent home movie night featured Mr. Holland’s Opus. In this 1995 film, Richard Dreyfuss plays the role of Glenn Holland, a man who finds himself teaching music in a high school for thirty years and failing to fulfill his dream of becoming a successful composer.
In the final scene, Gertrude Lang, a student who struggled to play the clarinet yet ultimately became the governor, said, “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."
This movie is sure to bring a tear to the eye, especially for those who played in the high school band or orchestra, and to bring to mind important people who have had an impact on our lives. Yet as the movie drew to a close, and the final notes were played, I pondered the comment made by Gertrude Lang – “We are the music of your life.” How often do we think of ourselves in this way? How often do we consider the fact that our lives show, or should show, the work of our mentors, coaches, or pastors?
This brought to mind what the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:1-5
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 4 Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.
How humbling! We are a letter from Christ, and our lives display the ministry that has been poured out on our behalf. Matthew Henry said of this text, “There is nothing more delightful to faithful ministers, nor more to their commendation, than the success of their ministry, evidenced in the hearts and lives of those among whom they labour.”
Through these human instruments in the Lord's hands, the Spirit is at work in our hearts. As we learn, grow, and apply the things that we’ve been taught, we understand more and more that we are God's workmanship created for the good works that he has prepared for us to do (Eph. 2:10). Our stony hearts are turned to hearts of flesh that we might walk in obedience and be “known and read by everyone.” Thanks be to God for His very great work in our lives!