Have you ever sat watching a film and felt like you were the only one there? That every single person and distraction disappears around you and you become a witness to the story that is unfolding in front of you. With each second you’re drawn into the emotions and events of what’s being revealed, feeling almost as if you are actually in the film. It's such a crazy feeling like you're no longer in your own reality... within yourself full of swelling emotions that deep down you know for some reason you need to be feeling at this specific moment in your life.
This happened for me the other day as I sat down to watch the movie, "I Can Only Imagine." Though the people in the audience seemed to disappear and the distractions dissipated, I didn’t feel solely alone. I truly felt Gods presence with me as I watched a similar story I could relate to in which began to be revealed to me through the screen. I knew God was using this movie to try and speak to me about things I had been avoiding for so long or situations I was currently facing.
This movie hit home….hard. It wasn’t just about a man trying to get into the music industry and about the record-setting song he wrote, it was about so much more. About the backstory that leads up to these moments of success and how God brought restoration to his life, how God revealed to him that the pain and experiences he had gone through when he was growing up were being used for something greater he had yet to see.
I’ve seen God move in my own life. I’ve seen the powerful ways He’s been at work. I’ve also experienced forgiveness beyond understanding. Yet, the thing about this movie that left me in shambles was the father-son relationship between the main character, Bart, and his dad. It was all too familiar… the yelling, the screaming, the hurtful words that left a stabbing throbbing pain deep within my heart. I could feel the pain Bart felt, I knew what some of it was like…and all I could think about as I watched this testimony was my mom.
Like the main characters relationship with his dad, I too grew up with a very strained and difficult relationship with my mom. For the longest time, the pain of the words shared lingered and stained my heart black with bitterness, resentment, and indescribable pain with each passing day.
With this said, my mom and I have worked at our relationship for years and by the grace of God and forgiveness, the damage had begun to be repaired, things started to get better with time. There was no way that things would ever be okay with her…. Until I fully learned to forgive her and stop holding the things of the past against her.
The night before I saw this movie my mom and I had a very difficult night filled with fighting and the sharing of poisonous words… words that could have destroyed what we had worked so hard to get back. As I sat watching the movie come to a close and the restoration the Lord provided between Bart and his father I was nearly on my knees sobbing my eyes out.
Thoughts flew through my mind as I thought about my mom… thinking about if I let the resentment continue in my life, thinking about how our time is so short here on earth, why waste it holding things against someone that we don’t even have the right to judge them about?! What was I doing? How could I continue passing up the chance to say ‘I truly do forgive you mom’ because I do, what if she never gets to hear those words come out of my mouth because I’m too stubborn or I’m simply too late?
We don’t know how much time we have here in our temporary homes. We don’t know when the last time we’ll get to speak to that specific person is. We never think the last time we see them is really the last time. We think we have more than enough time to approach the situation, that we’ll forgive them eventually. The time we have here, we so often take for granted, we think we’re entitled to 90+ years here but that’s not how it works.
As the tears burned my cheeks and I attempted to breathe through my nose, I felt as if Gods arms were just wrapped around me at this moment among the popcorn filled floors and red velvet seats. My heart began to soften as I opened up to full forgiveness and surrender of what has happened in the past with my mom. I let go. My heart was no longer filled with bitterness, but of love and forgiveness towards the woman who brought me life,the woman I can honestly and truly say I love so very much and always will.
I Can Only Imagine is a powerful reminder of Gods redeeming grace, His forgiveness He gives us, His never-ending love He’ll have for us despite our past. It also is a great reminder of how precious and valuable our time is here and how we need use it wisely and cherish it. Each breath we take, each relationship formed, and each moment shared is a gift, is a moment to live for Christ and reflect Him and His love into the lives of others.
“Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine”
-I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe