A Life Well Spent

May 14, 1999
by Steve Lavin

Matthew 25:15 – To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability.
Matthew 25:22,23 – The man with the two talents also came. "Master," he said, "you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more." His master replied, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!"

I watched Mr. Holland's Opus again last night. I love that movie. If you've never seen it, I highly recommend it. It's the story of a man who wants to write great music, a symphony. But he's not a great writer of music, so he has to get a "day job". He settles for teaching music in a high school. He supplements his income by teaching driver's education. He watches the years go by. He watches his dream fade. He faces retirement and sees that none of the big things that he had planned ever came to pass. "Life is what happens, while you're busy making other plans," is a line from a song in the movie. It's true.

The message of the movie is also so true of our Christian walk. So often we have big plans for God. We plan and plan. We start one thing and then another. We have to find our big project for God, our symphony. We lay the blank pages before God and say, "Inspire me Father. Bless my efforts. I want to be great for You." But most of us are not great symphony writers. Great composers are rare. Most of us are given the equivalent of the talent of a high school music teacher. And so, lacking the talent of a Bach or Mozart, we become frustrated, paralyzed, maybe, even bitter.

The movie ends with a town full of people, former students, paying honour to their teacher. And while he will never be remembered for the rather ordinary symphony that he struggled for thirty years to write, he will never be forgotten for the impact that he made on hundreds of students over the course of a lifetime. Mr. Holland may be a fictional character, but he can still teach us a lot. A life well spent is a life that helps one student, one person, at a time. And if God hasn't given you the talent of a composer, then just be a good teacher and impact people's lives, one at a time.

Prayer: Father help us to learn to be faithful with our talents, in the little, the simple, the ordinary, the everyday. Amen.

About the author:

Steve Lavin

Pelahatchie, Mississippi, USA

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