Although the weather is foggy and downcast, it has been a great day so far. As I have been recovering from surgery (post coming soon) and fasting from social media/non-Christian entertainment, I have been trying to fill my time with reading and learning as much as I can. As I was perusing Amazon Prime for a Christian movie to watch, I came across “I Can Only Image.” We watched snippets of the move last year when my church had the “At the Movies” series, so I was interested in watching the full movie.
“I Can Only Imagine” is a movie about Bart Millard, who is the lead singer of the Christian band, MercyMe. Growing up, Bart Millard suffered physical and emotional abuse from his father throughout his childhood and teenage years. His mother – his comfort after his father abused him – left both of them to escape the abuse she received from her husband. One of the best things that Bart’s mother did for him was take him to Camp Glorieta, a Christian summer camp. It was at the camp that he made life-long friends and learned about Jesus.
His story continued with meeting and joining a new Christian band called MercyMe. However, success was not instantaneous for the band…which caused Bart to flashback to times of emotional abuse by his father. When it seemed as though the band would fail, Bart decided to return home and reconcile with his father. Years of emotional and physical abuse by his father blinded Bart from seeing the transformation of his father, who had started a relationship with God after Bart had left home. Before his father passed away, Bart forgave his father and created happier memories with him. Bart wrote, “I Can Only Imagine,” not long after his father passed away, when he tried to imagine what it would be like to see Jesus in Heaven.
I would say that this movie goes beyond just being inspirational; it has a lot of lessons within it like: dealing with unexpected situations, forgiveness, and physical and emotional abuse. I’m reading a book called “Unexpected” by Christine Caine, and in the book, she talks about having an expectation in the midst of unexpected situations. Bart experienced a setback in high school that completely changed the trajectory of his life, but it also allowed him to tap into an unknown gift…singing. Had he not experienced that setback, he probably would not have joined MercyMe, nor created a better relationship with his father. The movie showcases how forgiveness can be a struggle, but how it has the ability to free you from past hurt.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15
I’m not saying that forgiveness is easy, but it’s important. Simply put, we cannot expect forgiveness from God while denying forgiveness to others. And finally, the movie showed the effects of physical and emotional abuse. Bart carried around all of that hurt, shame, pressure, and wrong ideologies for years. It wasn’t until he found freedom from those years of abuse that things started to change for him…and it can change for you too.
At our church we have a saying, we want people to: know God, find freedom, discover their purpose, and make a difference. And the story of Bart Millard is a great example of those actions. He came to know Jesus at a camp one summer. He not only found freedom from the abuse he suffered at the hand of his father, but he forgave his father as well. When an unexpected situation happened in his life, he discovered his purpose/gift of singing. Then he used his purpose/gift to spread the gospel to those close and far from God.
I would absolutely recommend this movie to any and everyone that I meet. If you’re looking for a movie to watch as a family or a movie to watch with friends/family who do not know God, this is the perfect movie. My hope is that this movie can stir discussions; discussions about faith, discussions about abuse and how to get help, and discussions on forgiveness. If you have Amazon Prime, it is free to watch. Otherwise, you can watch it on Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, and Hulu.
If you watch this movie, I would love to hear your thoughts about it. Comment below and share with your friends and family. As always, thanks for reading!!!