Tonight was our “Flick on the Fifth” night at church. If a month has 5 Saturdays, we show a film on that fifth evening. Tonight’s film was “I Can Only Imagine“, the story behind the song written by Bart Milliard from MercyMe.
Such a powerful story and song. First of all, that song was not only #1 on the Gospel charts, but was also #1 on the Country charts at the same time. Anyone who has ever lost someone close to them tries to imagine what happens next. I know I have, especially when I lost my best friend.
The song, inspired by his life, is about the way Bart’s father went from being the “abusive monster” he grew up with to the saved, Jesus loving man that he finally forgave and found a love for his dad that he never imagined he’d ever have. So beautiful. I was a teary mess by the end, of course. Ha, ha.
It was definitely one that got us talking afterward. Have you ever suffered at the hands of another something so terrible, that you couldn’t forgive them. Even held a grudge? Then, they changed. They repented and made amends and wanted you to forgive them. And here you are, still in that place of hurt, not ready to give in, even though you know, deep in your heart that you love them and want to; but they have shattered your trust so badly, so many times that you don’t know if you can trust them, ever!
Yeah, I know all about that. Except, that I always forgive and end up right back in the same position, kicked in the teeth by the one I forgave countless times. I was reading a Max Lucado book last year and Max reminded me of the time Jesus faced the same problem. In Luke 4:16-30, we find Jesus being rejected by those who are from His own hometown, “What good can come from Nazareth?” Max explains how even Jesus found rejection from His own family and friends and left, unable to preach to those He loved. He further explained that when others hurt us or betray us, it is perfectly okay to walk away or leave the relationship in order to not subject yourself to their hurtful ways.
Now, for me, this was great advice. My father and sisters constantly talk trash behind my back. It hurts. They make judgments about me, even though they are wrong, and I have to stand by and let them. I have to take it. And if I don’t? Too bad, they’re entitled to their opinions; but I’m not. After years of living with their abuse, I finally disassociated myself from their influence and left them. They can no longer hurt me.
I have forgiven them. I just don’t allow them to continue their bad behavior toward me. I don’t give them the opportunity to hurt me. I have turned my back on their abuse and no longer take it. I am FREE.
As for the movie, Bart was able to restore his relationship with his father after years of abuse. He was able to watch the monster turn into a God fearing, bible thumping, lover of Jesus. It was a beautiful transformation and it was something that allowed the watcher a peek into forgiveness in action and working through pain and heartbreak. Truly, the beauty of God transformed this father and son into the best of friends and for me, it was such a wonderful glimpse into how He works.