I love the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus with Richard Dreyfuss as a high school band teacher who dreams of the fame and glory of becoming a famous composer. He never really gets his wish fulfilled, but feels he wastes his life teaching acne-faced, uncoordinated and un-rhythmic teenagers how to play musical instruments. On the side he continues to write music, working on his “Opus” masterpiece throughout his lifetime.
At the end of the movie, after decades of teaching, Mr. Holland is forced into early retirement because of school budget cuts. He’s older now, walks with more of a slouch, and we see him shuffling down the school hall after clearing out his desk for the last time. And then there is this climatic scene that reminds me of a coming day in heaven. He opens up the door to the school auditorium with his family and there is this huge surprise retirement celebration for him. Past and present teachers and students are there, cheering like crazy as he walks down the aisle. He takes his place at the front and is publicly honored by his former students, including the governor of the state whom he patiently taught to play clarinet. Afterwards a wide-aged range of former students play for him his lifelong masterpiece, his Opus, and tears stream down his shocked face. He realizes all of his sacrifice was worth it and that “life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.” His life really mattered, really impacted people, and now he is being celebrated with joy. (See the clip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ng3l4vEN3Dk&feature=related)
That coming celebration, what the Bible calls the Judgment Seat of Christ, awaits those who have poured out their lives for God and for others. Although our salvation is 100% dependent on God’s grace and not our good works (see Ephesians 2:8-9), we are going to be rewarded in heaven on that day for how we lived our lives:
So we make it our goal to please Him…For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.[i]
Your life really matters. You are impacting people. You are making a difference. And one day He will celebrate you— with great joy. It’s all going to be worth it. Let that coming joy be your strength today.
[i] 2Corinthians 5:10