Have You Written Your Opus?

by Andy Wood on April 2, 2009

in Allocating Your Resources, Five LV Laws, LV Cycle, Principle of Legacy

opusI had an experience a few years ago that moved me more than anything had in months or years.  And to this day, I’m still not sure why, and/or why it moved me on that particular day.

It was a Sunday afternoon.  The house was quiet and I was alone.  I lay down on the bed and started watching a rerun of “Mr. Holland’s Opus.”  I’d seen the movie several years earlier, and for whatever reason, decided to watch it again.

I had already gotten pretty weepy at a couple of places in the movie.  But at the climax of the film, when Mr. Holland sees the lives he has impacted, and hears the governor, once his student, say, “Mr. Holland, we are your opus,” my guts turned inside out.  It hit a nerve – a deep, raw nerve – like nothing had in years – perhaps ever.

By this time I was sitting in the den, alone in the house, sobbing.  Crying out to God.  “Oh God, I want to have that kind of impact on other people’s lives.”

What surprised me wasn’t the desire itself (that’s been a staple of my life for years), but the force of it.  I want to get to the end of my life and see that I have made that kind of difference.  I want it badly.  Deeply.  And probably somewhere in my heart of hearts, at least on that day, I didn’t feel as though I had.

In the movie, Glen Holland made an impact on other lives because he put his own dreams aside, year after year, to invest in his students and family.  All the time he originally budgeted for composing – his own personal dream – was quickly sapped in making a living.  But his living was teaching – giving students the knowledge and, more importantly, a moral compass for using that knowledge.

In all those years, he’d seen himself as a person who endured the sacrifices necessary to make a living, and had pretty well swallowed the disappointment of a life of unfulfilled dreams.  What he didn’t realize was that in giving up his ambition, he’d found a calling – one that, like Jonah, he ran from.

He never realized how much it meant to him until someone took it away.

He also never realized how much he’d meant to his students.

The movie quoted a famous line from John Lennon:  “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”  It’s there that callings are often found, and other lives are impacted.

Many Christians spend their lives pining away for the Magic Moment that is neither magic, nor a moment.  Meanwhile, life grinds on.  But here’s where we miss it:  God is in the grind! James puts it this way:  “You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14, NIV)

I want to do something with my “mist.”  More than I ever knew I did.  I want to impact a new generation.  To do so, I’ll quit pining away for something I may never see.  I’ll look at today’s sacrifices and necessities as the means through which my greatest impact happens.  And I will intentionally offer my time, gifts, and attention to those who were otherwise seen as interruptions and inconveniences.  How about you?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Ron@TheWisdomJournal April 2, 2009 at 10:40 am

Wow, this is a great insight. I think it was Byron Katie that said something like “If you really want to mess your life up, get yourself a future.” Too often we live in the future at the expense of the present. We’re focused on what we will do someday rather than what we CAN do today. Reminds me of the verse in Matthew 6: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

We obviously need to concern ourselves with having an impact TODAY on someone’s life! By posting this, you’ve had an impact on mine — thank you.

Ron@TheWisdomJournals last blog post..10 Ways To Blow Your Severance Package

Andy Wood April 2, 2009 at 1:55 pm


Thanks for the encouragement, my friend! And you’re right – no vision or goal for the future should come at the expense of the present.

June Carter April 3, 2009 at 5:18 pm


I love this article. What a great reminder that we are a mist that appears for only a little while….and yes, we sometimes get caught up in waiting for the “magic moment.” I know I do. I pray my life has and will make a difference in the lives of others while I have my hand to the plow.


Andy Wood April 6, 2009 at 12:04 am

June – It has, and is! And like Mr. Holland and all those whose hands are to the plow, it’s often hard to gauge our success while we’re still turning up the dirt (and probably unwise to try). That’s why encouragement is so helpful to those who are still grinding it out! Thanks for yours.

Mattie April 13, 2009 at 10:45 pm

Andy, great post. This movie was one of the first gifts I ever gave my wife. At the time, SHE was the teacher! Now, the tables are turned! Ha! But I think the power of the film is that it resonates with all of us. We have this innate desire to make a difference, to leave a legacy that is bigger than us. Trouble is, many of us try to make it about us, and wind up leaving a legacy of hurt people, broken relationships, and heartache. But when, like Glen Holland, we lay aside ourselves (even when we do it unintentionally), we can make the greatest difference.

Hmmm…didn’t Jesus say something to that effect when He said “He who keeps his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for My sake will keep it.”

Matties last blog post..HE IS RISEN!!!

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