We love movies for the stories they tell. Their ability to transport us into another world, far far away. Occasionally a story comes along with the power to touch our soul – to change our lives.
“I Can Only Imagine” reveals a story closer to home, a reality for many. A story first captured in a song, written by lifetimes of pain and separation: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Of a hurt so deep, it feels impossible to let go.
Do you know that pain? I dare you to see this movie once.
As a child, Bart faces pain and separation from the father who abuses him and the mother who abandons him. Throughout his life he clings to various touchstones found in others, in music, in God, that offer him Hope and opportunity, for a better life following new dreams.
But the pain, unresolved, follows him, an anchor rooted in his past.
His father also lives a life of pain; the pain of failed dreams, of abandonment, of addictions. This story illuminates how a life of pain twists a man into a monster. How the pain feeds the monster. And it is this pain, shared between generations, that threatens to destroy all hope of ever experiencing enduring love.
As Bart pursues his own dreams, a career that takes him away from his childhood, we recognize that he is only running away from his troubles, including the inevitability of becoming his own monster. By not facing his pain, the pain becomes a barrier preventing him from realizing his desires.
When finally challenged to be honest with himself, to yield to his past, face his fears, and be vulnerable to offer and receive forgiveness, he can’t. He begins an angry journey, a duty or task that is required, but not desired. He faces that pain, personified in his father, with anger, only seeing him through old eyes, not new. Bart is unwilling to listen to his father, to be open to God’s promise of redemption. He is unable to recognize something changed in his father, which is so clear to us.
At one point, his father pleads with him, “If God can forgive everybody else, why can’t He forgive me?” Bart spits out his words bitterly, “God Can. I Can’t.”
And He Does.
Lord help our unbelief.
God offers His Grace to all, showing us Mercy, allowing us to find and receive redemption from our hurt. But Love is Action and Action requires conscious choice. It is in our choosing the act of forgiving others that we too will be forgiven. By others. By ourselves.
This choice requires our surrender, our ability to yield to His desire for us. Thy Will Be Done. This is where the healing begins. This is where the healing leads into transformation.
God can do so much. He can make good out of every bad thing in our lives. And He gives us the opportunity to fix our lives, if we only have the courage to act.
And when Bart takes the stage to sing “I Can Only Imagine” for the first time in the movie, it will feel like the first time you’ve ever heard it. Your heart will be so FULL that you will desire that peace and forgiveness in your own life. God’s Overwhelming Love.
Don’t believe me?
I Dare You to See This Movie Once.
We know that all things work for good for those who love God,