I Can Only Imagine

This last weekend we took our two older girls to see the new movie ‘I Can Only Imagine’.

Bart Millard, from Christian band ‘Mercy Me’, many years ago wrote a song called ‘I Can Only Imagine’ after his father died. His father was quite an abusive man when Bart was growing up, and as a result, Bart left home as soon as he physically could.

Every kid wants a loving relationship with their father. There is a need inside of every child that aches for that special relationship with their dad. They want to be cared for, and nurtured specifically by their father. Bart would try to please his father, but no matter what he did his father would find fault with him, and his angry outbursts were frightening.  Bart has publicly described his father as a monster.

His mother and father ended their marriage when Bart was young. She had come to the end of her rope and had to leave the toxic environment.

After high school, Bart left home, and became the lead singer of a band called ‘MercyMe’.  They were a group of young guys trying to make it in the music industry. After a while, he felt that he needed to go home. He was living his life carrying the shame and pain that was his family life, and it had caught up with him. He needed to go and face some of his demons.

Returning home was difficult for Bart.  His father had always been so aggressive and mean, and this was what he was expecting on his return, but the man he returned home to, was a different man to the one Bart had left behind a few years before. He was met by a man who had changed. He was softer. Something was very different about his dad.

While Bart was away, his father had time to reflect on his life. He had a dramatic God experience while Bart had been away, and the evidence of his father’s change, for Bart, was that his father had become a calmer, and loving person toward him, who also went to church with him. A father and son who were once enemies, became friends.

After the death of his father, Bart penned the song ‘I can only imagine’.   Popular Christian artist, Amy Grant said to Bart in an interview that ‘a song like this might be written in 10 minutes, but it took a lifetime to write’.  ‘I can only imagine’ is a song that has stayed popular with Christians over the many years, and because of Bart’s story – the story behind the song,  the song is again back in the charts.

I was reminded yet again that everyone has a story.  Everyone has been hurt in one way or another, and everyone wants to belong and feel loved.

I believe that stories can change people, and here are seven take away points from the movie ‘I Can Only Imagine’.

  1. We should NEVER assume that anyone is too far gone – God will draw who he chooses to.

  2. God’s timing is always perfect

  3. Everyone is eligible for redemption!

  4. Everyone has a purpose to fulfill in their life, and if we let Him, God will direct our feet to a path better than we could imagine for ourselves.

  5. We need to make sure we do everything on our part that can make relationships better. We aren’t responsible for how others treat us, but we are responsible for how we behave and respond.

  6. When we don’t deal with our hurts, they follow us into future relationships and situations. They remain pain points until we deal with them.

  7. Forgiveness is the answer to many hardships – even when the person doesn’t ask for forgiveness – forgive anyway. It’s the key to free you up, rather than hold you back. Relationships move forward when forgiveness is applied.

As the credits rolled there was a stillness in the cinema. No one moved. All around us, people were drying their eyes. The movie ‘I can only imagine’ really touched the hearts of many people in the cinema.    I loved this movie, and I look forward to buying the DVD.  I would encourage everyone to see it.