A Writer’s Response to the “I Can Only Imagine” Movie

Good afternoon, Arrowheads! As you know, a new Christian film was recently released, entitled “I Can Only Imagine”. The movie is based on the true life events of MercyMe’s vocalist, Bart Millard, who penned the Christian crossover hit song “I Can Only Imagine”. My boyfriend,  Josh, asked me to go see the film the Friday after its initial release, and we both found ourselves crying throughout the movie. The movie resonated with me as a young Christian, showing me that God always has a purpose for our pain, and that His love can inspire change in even the most hateful people. However, as a Christian author, I related even more to Bart’s story.


Like Bart, I’ve always been a dreamer. When he was a kid, he listened to all types of music, learning his craft. When I was a kid, I was always making up stories or silly songs, learning my own craft. By the time we both reached early adulthood, we both knew three things:

  1. We wanted to achieve our dreams.
  2. We feel like this talent is our calling from God.
  3. We know it’ll be a risky road ahead to make those dreams a reality.

Throughout the band’s beginning years, MercyMe went through highs and lows, experienced rejection, and had their faith shaken, only to come to the realization that their dream is only achievable if they put God first. After finishing writing Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl in high school, I went through a similar period: writing fiction became more difficult, I faced rejection in relationships, I lost long-term friendships after graduation, developed crippling anxiety… and it was only when I stepped back and let God lead that I even caught a glimpse of success. And now, like Bart did when he penned the song that’s touched the hearts of millions, I don’t want to write solely for myself anymore. I want to use writing to glorify God, the One who bestowed this gift upon me, who entrusts me to use it as a method to reach others and relay the message of His love and sacrifice to people around the world.

When I first started writing at age seven, I wrote what a typical kid would write about: my stuffed animals, pets, and family. As I got older, I ventured into longer works and wrote CBTHOACG. It originally was not a Christian fiction novel,  just a plain ol’ YA novel. But as the years continued to go by and I hadn’t finished any other WIPs because I kept getting stuck, I realized my focus wasn’t where it should be. Eventually, I came across some amazing contemporary Christian fiction novels in the YA genre: Becoming Nikki, Me & My Invisible Guyand the Ellie Sweet series. These novels were more touching to read than most other YA books I’d read, and it was then I knew what those WIPs were missing.

That’s why “I Can Only Imagine” became a successful crossover song: Bart finally surrendered and let God use him to pen the song; Bart didn’t write “I Can Only Imagine” with his own ability, and I’m sure he’d probably say the same. God gave Bart “Imagine” after allowing him to go through the ups and downs of life, to show him that he needs to fully rely on God. “Imagine” is Bart’s gift from God to remind him that his pain has a purpose, that God’s timing is better than our own. God allowed “Imagine” to cross over onto so many different music charts because He knew others could and would learn about, and come to accept, Him through the words. Bart wanted God to be heard through MercyMe, and the impact of his obedience to God has spawned a global phenomenon.

In the same way, I pray that God may allow me to be a pen in His hand, to use the works I publish to glorify His name, to reach whoever needs it. Watching Bart’s life story play out in the movie not only revealed the proof of God’s love and infallible plan, but also an echo of Proverbs 16:3, “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.”

Now, I’m not saying that because I aim to work to glorify God that I’ll become a super-famous author like “I Can Only Imagine” became a triple-platinum single. God may use me in a different way, but He will use me where He sees fit. And as long as at least one person comes to know God’s love through it, well, that’s worth it to me.

If you haven’t seen it already, I highly recommend watching I Can Only Imagine! It’s one of the best Christian (and all-around) movies I’ve ever seen!

-Allyson 😀

Posted by

As an author and blogger, my goal is to teach writers that there is a way to write realistic, thought-provoking, redemptive Christian fiction that honors God while not sugarcoating the realities of the world.