Growing up, one of my favorite movies was Mr. Holland's Opus. It's a classic. Richard Dreyfuss stars as Glenn Holland, a hopeful conductor turned high school band director. In the beginning of the movie, Mr. Holland is writing a masterful piece of music—an opus, if you will. All throughout the film, you get glimpses of him working on this, but as he ages, it seems it will never be finished.
The movie climaxes with Mr. Holland as an older man and the school deciding to cut the music program due to funding. As he is walking out of the building on his last day, he hears something in the school's auditorium. He finds the place filled wall-to-wall with people cheering for him—former students (now adults), friends, and family. Everyone is there for him.
The curtain on the stage flies open to reveal an orchestra of former students from each of his classes. They perform his masterpiece, his opus that he’d been working on his whole life. However, it's clear the real masterpiece is not the music at all; it's the students he impacted during his life. This is one of the most powerful musical scenes in my opinion and is likely the reason why I was in band in middle and high school, and why I still have a passionate love for musical compositions today.
(If you've got a few minutes, check out the closing scene of the movie here)
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to see the Garland Symphony in concert. It was such a treat! I really loved listening for the different instruments as the movements progressed.
One of my favorite parts was watching the maestro as he conducted. The way his hands moved softly and then in a ballistic motion, then back to softly. It was a full upper-body workout, no doubt. Shoulders, head, neck, back—all were getting their share of movement, with the music serving as a soundtrack. If a section needed to be louder, he made it happen. If something big was coming, he warned them right before. There wasn't a single note out of place, not one beat missed, and everyone was in perfect harmony. It was a beautiful dance of tempo and tone, with just one man serving as the glue to hold it all together. I was captivated.
Watching all of this, it crossed my mind how each player was vital, yet humbly insignificant to the whole. Any one of them alone couldn't produce the same sound; however, if just one stopped playing, it would likely go unnoticed.
"There wasn't a single note out of place, not one beat missed, and everyone was in perfect harmony. It was a beautiful dance of tempo and tone,..."
What Instrument do You Play?
Have you ever stopped to think about why you’re here and what purpose you serve in the grand scheme of things? Ultimately, we all want our lives to matter and to feel like we’ll leave the world in a better place than we found it. So the question is, how? What is your role in all of this? What instrument do you play and how do you know the music?
As you're reading this, ask yourself, "If I could wake up tomorrow and do anything, what would it be?"
Whatever it is that just came to your mind, are you doing it right now? Maybe the answer is "no," and perhaps it seems impossible. However, I am a firm believer that God genuinely gave each of us a gift. Some are meant to be artists, others engineers. Don't force yourself to be something for just any reason. Whatever your unique personality and gifting are, learn to lean in to that. Make it a focus of who you are and who you want to be. You literally only have one chance at this life; don't spend it doing something you don't love to do. Find your instrument.
At the beginning of every orchestral concert, each player warms up their instrument and does some final run-throughs. Different songs, different tempos, and different volumes, all at the same time—it's a beautiful chaos. Life can sometimes feel this way. Some seem to be fighting for the position of the loudest. While others, even within the church, struggle to figure out pieces of life they just haven't nailed down yet. So the question is, if no one has it together, then how does anyone do anything that matters? It's simple; we don't.
The night I attended the Garland Symphony, they featured pianist Lindsay Garritson. This girl had the entire Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 2 in Bb Major MEMORIZED. It was by far one of the most impressive things I've ever seen. There were bits of the concerto that called for the piano to play with the orchestra, parts where she played by herself, and at times she just sat there and didn't play at all. It was the perfect balance.
When she played alone, the audience was mesmerized as her fingers hit every key. Solos are great, and they sound good, but only for a short time—players and ears can get exhausted. In the same way, no man or woman can expect to operate by themselves successfully over a long period of time. Life just sounds better when others are a part of it.
"...if no one has it together, then how does anyone do anything that matters? It's simple; we don't."
By far and without question, my favorite part of the entire symphony is when the maestro walks out from backstage, lifts his baton, and there is dead silence. The silence—that's my favorite part. It's an on-the-edge-of-your-seat, deafening kind of silence. You know something is coming, but you don't know exactly when or what it's going to sound like. It's the definition of anticipation.
So, how do we make sense of the chaos? How do we know what to do if we aren't going to be on our own? How do we do something that matters if we don't have it all together?
Jesus. The Lord of all creation made each of us with a purpose. He designed us with a specific part and instrument to play. Sometimes when we sit down, our natural instinct is to grab what we have and try to make sense of it, because it's all we know to do. The problem is, when everyone is doing that, it's insanity. This is why a good, godly community is so important. We have to learn to follow the Grand Maestro together. To know exactly when to start and stop, to read the tempo and feel the crescendos. To understand when it's time for a solo or maybe time to not play at all.
You see, God created you and me, not for us to be on our own, but to be an opus for His glory. To show the world the way life was meant to be lived—hearing sounds they've never heard and following a maestro they don't recognize.
Life might seem chaotic right now and not make much sense. Is it possible that the curtains are about to open, the baton is being raised, and silence is hitting the room of your life? Something big is about to happen. Wait for it...
Until next time.