I just watched the film Capote, a story about a writer who became obsessed with a tragic murder. The film details his journey as he goes to the community where the murders were committed, becomes friends with the people involved and then begins to forge a relationship with the killers, all so that he can write a book about the incident. Capote is shown to be a cold, single-minded man whose only desire is to finish the book, which he calls In Cold Blood.
But a problem soon arises. The killers are given a stay of execution. The book cannot be finished until they are dead. So Capote says he prays to God that they will be hung. Eventually they are, and Capote publishes In Cold Blood. It becomes the most sought-after book in North America. In the short blurbs at the end of the film, we are told Capote’s preface to the book includes the words, “More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.” We are also told that Capote was never able to finish another book. His alcoholism finally caused his death.
The film is chilling for many reasons – the murders, the sad picture of two young men whose lives were damaged from the beginning, the seemingly cold manipulation of a writer who would do anything to get his story. But the thing that chilled my heart the most was that last bit of information at the end of the film. A man who was obviously very talented never used his gift again. His work and his life were ruined because of the choices he made. Most tragic of all, he never, as far as was evident, received the forgiveness that could have freed him from his guilt and torment.
There are too many of us like Truman Capote. Too many who have made wrong choices but, for whatever reason, do not recognize that there is a way to put those wrongs behind us forever. A long-ago king knew the truth about this forgiveness that is available to all of us. His name was David. He too made wrong choices that resulted in death. Yet he wrote – “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him…” (Psalm 103:12-13).
God’s forgiveness is free because His Son, Jesus paid the price for us. The scriptures say that He ‘became sin’ and freed us from its grip. All we have to do is acknowledge what we have done and ask for the forgiveness that is available. Such a small step, yet it can free us to go on with our lives, to fulfill the purposes for which God created us, to move joyfully using the gifts He has given us. It is a great tragedy that Truman Capote did not make that small step. Perhaps no-one told him how. Perhaps he believed it was just too good to be true, that his sin was too great for God to forgive. Tragedy upon tragedy.
I pray that we will all turn to God and seek His forgiveness. The world needs men and women who are free, men and women who will use their gifts to God’s glory.