Photo Credit: Lionsgate
     Everyone has heard, played, and sang the song made so popular by Bart Millard of Mercy Me, but no one knew the story about it until it was released in this well made film about the life of Bart Millard and his relationship with his Dad. But before I get to the review of the film, I would like for you to read and internalize the lyrics and then, you might understand how a man, who was described as a monster, could become Bart’s best friend in the end.
I Can Only Imagine Lyrics by Bart Marshall Millard of Mercy Me
I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk, by your side
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When you face is before me
I can only imagine
I can only imagine
Surrounded by You 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
I can only imagine when that day comes
When I find myself standing in the Son
I can only imagine when all I would do is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine
I can only imagine
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 hey ya ah
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 hey ya ah
I can only imagine yeah yeah
I can only imagine
I can only imagine ey ey ey
I can only imagine
I can only imagine when all I will do
Is forever, forever worship You
I can only imagine
Songwriters: Bart Marshall Millard
I Can Only Imagine lyrics © Music Services, Inc
     The film opens up with a young Bart at his grandmothers house blowing leaves around with a leaf blower. Although he probably was playing around, his grandmother loved him and told him what a fine job he did and gave him some money. Bart rides off on his bicycle, stops by a music store, and gets some new cassette tapes to play on his recorder. He visits a junk store and picks of items to make a pretty cool space helmet. When he arrives home, he finds his Dad burning football shoulder pads and throwing his own football trophies in a barrel filled with fire. Dad comes in and gets into an argument with Bart’s Mom and then snatches Bart’s helmet and throws it into the fire can. His Dad is actually an angry man who is both verbally and physically abusive to his wife as well as his own son.
     A few days later, Bart’s Mom takes him to a Summer Christian Camp and drops him off for a week. She tells him that she loves him and drives away. Little does Bart know that she is leaving the entire family and running away with another man. Not only is Bart a victim of child abuse, but his own Mother left him with the abuser. But Bart is a survivor and only by God’s grace that he has made it into adulthood. Bart played football to satisfy his Dad, but even when Bart was severely injured, his Dad had very little compassion for him. His Dad was a hard and hateful man. The entire movie portrays his Dad as an abusive father until almost the end.
      Not able to play football, Bart joined the High School Glee Club and it was there that it was discovered that he could sing, and sing very well. He starred in the High School Play, “Oklahoma” and started attending church with his girlfriend. In one scene, Bart had dressed for church and was going to sing in a televised service on the radio and his Dad got very angry at him and broke a plate of eggs over the back of his head. Bart then leaves and heads to church with a bloody head.
     After Bart graduated from High School, he and his girlfriend parted ways because Bart was a troubled young man and he wanted to leave the town. He went on to Oklahoma City and it was there that he joined a band and they called themselves “Mercy Me.”  He tried to find his way in the Christian music business, through the help of Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, and Scott Brickell. But before Bart was ready, he had to find himself so that he could write from the heart. It took a while and Bart went back home to confront his Dad. Little did Bart know that his Dad had come to Christ and had become a Christian. His Dad’s life had been changed. It took Bart a while to accept it that his Dad really had changed, but he came to understand that if God could transform a monster into a man who was in love with God, God could change anyone.
     His Dad ultimately died and then Bart went back on the road with his band, Mercy Me. It was that time that he wrote, “I Can Only Imagine.” Bart and Brickell pitched the song to Amy Grant. She agreed to record it and sing it at one of her concerts. But as Grant was about to sing it, she just could not because it was not her story. She asked Bart to come up on stage and sing his song, which he did. He got a standing ovation and that was the beginning of the hit song, “I Can Only Imagine.”
     As I think about the film, and the analogy of how his Father treated his own son, his Dad really was a monster and yet God came to his Dad, convicted him of his evil ways. His Dad asked Jesus into his life and he was forgiven.  Isn’t it a miracle that even when we act so nasty, evil, hateful, and mean; it is only through Jesus Christ that hearts can be changed and turned around. Arthur Millard Jr. was an All-American Football player and was Bart Millard’s Dad. Bart was beaten at least three to four times a week and his Dad even told Bart at one time that he did not care about him. But God got a hold of his Dad and changed his heart and his life. This is what the song and film is about.
     Unless you have a hard heart, bring your tissues. There was not a dry eye in the theater last night. I give this film FIVE STARS! It is a very well made movie and I highly recommend it!.
Here is the breakdown of the main cast:
Bart – J. Michael Finley
Young Bart – Brody Rose
Scott Brickell – Trace Adkins
Young Shannon – Taegen Burns
Shannon – Madeline Carroll
Amy Grant – Nicole DuPont
Michael W. Smith – Jake B. Miller
Arthur (Bart’s Dad) – Dennis Quaid
Directed by Andrew and Jon Erwin
Click the following link for the full credits on the Internet Movie Database:
Joseph T. Lee © March 17, 2018, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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Joseph Lee is an entrepreneur who owns a “Christ Centered” business as well as he is involved in Marketplace Evangelism & Discipleship. He most recently graduated from Liberty University Rawlings School of Divinity with a Masters in Christian Ministry. His focus was Pastoral Ministries. He will continue to work as a co-vocational pastor/businessman in the corporate world. In previous professions, Joseph was in law enforcement and was almost killed in the line of duty. It was then that he realized that God had spared his life and he was being called into the ministry. Joseph has also been involved in a music ministry and co-produced his solo album called “Shield of Faith” which is offered on iTunes. He also has a diverse background in acting and has appeared in a major motion picture as well as on several television shows on the Discovery Channel. God has changed his life in a way that he is on fire for Christ and shares the Gospel with all who are lost without hope. It is only through his faith in God and Christ that he is pursuing co-vocational ministry in the marketplace. Joseph is the Managing Partner, an Editor, and a Contributor for The Lantern & Shield Times for Faith and other news stories.

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