If you have never heard the song I can only imagine you could still be deeply moved by Bart Millard’s memoir by the same title. If you have heard the song but have never heard the story behind it be prepared to be moved again. If you’ve seen the movie but haven’t read the book you may want to read the book.
I was so touched by the movie when it came out that I can remember reading many articles and watching many interviews about Bart’s journey that now I can’t remember if I read his book back then or not. Thankfully I do remember reading it earlier this year and I’m grateful to whomever it was that put a copy of the book in a local free lending library.
The movie was beautiful, memorable, to the extent that since then I’ve had zero reservations in recommending it to people. Sadly despite Bart being so involved in the project the story of his life is significantly altered in the movie and to this day I feel disappointment by this. According to Bart in the book the first draft on the film they had was about 6 hours long. I can understand why they made the creative choices they did. As a storyteller I wish they had found other solutions that kept some key events more factually accurate.
The good news is as Bart points out in the book he wasn’t limited to the ideal length of a film when writing his memoir. He uses the pages well to tell the story behind the best selling single in Christian Music history. To tell that story he also shares his story and in doing so shares a very personal example of the freedom that can be found through Jesus.
The forgiveness he found through Jesus to forgive those that had wronged him in his journey is openly and honestly conveyed. The change a life with Jesus can have in an individual is clearly depicted with the transformation of his father. It’s an authentic depiction of the struggles we can all face in life from abuse endured in childhood when our resources to deal with these situations are minimal. To dysfunctional relationships as adults when we have better access to resources that could help us but our life choices are still far from healthy.
As a creative I connect easily with Bart’s journey. I haven’t had the success he has but I can relate to the creative process. The struggle of creating because you feel you have to even if it doesn’t pay the bills. The dilemma of never knowing if what you create will connect with others until it is to late for you to do anything about it. Balancing how much I share with the public has always felt like walking on a high wire without a safety net. I value my privacy yet also want to help others and finding that balance is not an easy exercise.
Mercy Me’s list of awards and hits is lengthy making Bart’s story not only one of forgiveness but perseverance. What I love most about Bart’s story is we don’t have to imagine what life will be like in heaven because we can experience it here on earth. We don’t have to wait till we leave our earthy bodies behind to experience the peace we will in heaven.
Yes we still live in a broken world and the persecution, pain and suffering we face here won’t be present in that chapter of our lives. However living life with Jesus here and now means that if you had an abusive parent or have an abusive spouse that you can know a peace that defies human logic. When you can see them as their creator does you can love and forgive them like he does. You can live free from the dead weights that bitterness, resentment and forgiveness are.
So even more than Bart’s story is a story of perseverance and forgiveness it’s a story of freedom. When you can change your perspective of a situation you can change your perception of who controls the situation. In all the decades I’ve been searching for answers I’ve discovered none better than the life changing wisdom found in the Bible. The more I discover that it isn’t just an old book of philosophy but was written by our loving creator that we can have a personal relationship with here on earth the more peace I have regardless of what happens to this body. For context I’m writing this in the middle of the night because I’m in too much pain to sleep.
So if you could use some encouragement to make this year your best one yet check out both the book and movie of the story behind I can only imagine. If that story or this article helps you please share them with others. You don’t need to be a creative to help others, you just need to share what we create.
Three of Neville’s most read articles from 2022:
Neville Hiatt was the 2020 Press Services International Tronson Senior Writers Award Winner for Australia. His previous posts for can be read here.
He spent a decade working for Radio Stations before his career was intermissioned by someone in a hurry to get home from work. For more of his award winning creativity visit http://nevillehiatt.com.
He also blogs for http://altcoincollege.com/covering the way cryptocurrencies and blockchain are changing our world.