A “Long Story Short” Shorts the Story
Updated: Aug 5, 2022
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3: 17-18)
Have you ever walked in to a group of people telling a story and all you hear is the last line and everybody laughs? The summer in which Noah and I were camp pastors at Cascades we had a moment like that at the beginning of the summer. We had a bunch of staff over to our trailer for a movie night and as we were trying to quiet everyone down one of the staff was finishing up a story. When he realized he was the only one left talking he said “So long story short, the cops show up and shoot the cow.”
I think you could hear us all laughing from one end of camp to the other. It became a punch line for the rest of the summer, it was a great inside joke and when others around us looked confused it validated that we knew something they didn’t. It was surprising how many people would laugh simply to join in and not stand out as someone out of the loop. I think we often do the same thing with the verses we pick out of the Bible. We deliver the punch lines so often, we have forgotten to let others, even ourselves in on the story.
This week Noah and I are speaking at Cascades Camp where the theme verse is 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. The words are beautiful about freedom and unveiled faces and glory. They’re a nice picture that I have heard a million times about how we have freedom to be who God wants us to be. And that is true, we do. But there is a much bigger story to be told and I think too often we are satisfied by the punch line because the back story takes too much effort.
Second Corinthians 3 is about Moses. It’s about the deliverance of slaves from Egypt and the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai. It is about Moses being so covered in the glory of God that he has to veil his face so that others aren’t blinded by his radiance. Now read those verses again. Think about what it would’ve been like to hear about those words as a first century Israelite knowing that there is an irrevocable connection between Moses and freedom; true and palpable freedom. These Corinthians weren’t hearing these words as a few lines to make them feel like they just got a nice hug and were told they were free to go be themselves, pursue their careers and hope you eventually retire with a comfortable 401K.
This was a reminder that they were no longer chained to an oppressive regime that treated them like expendable property. And now, they had the thought of being able to reflect the glory of God with unveiled faces, to be entirely free to worship the Messiah who had come and will come again. This was radical, radiant and revolutionary. This was the freedom they had forgotten and this was their story, not their anecdote or synopsis.
How often do we settle for the short version of our long stories because filling people in would be too much effort, or too much pain, or too much of the realization that we feel inadequate in our own stories? What would it look like if we stopped giving in to this lie that our story is our own and isn’t connected to millennia of those who have shared in our faith stories? What if we were free to remove the veils from our faces and let His glory shine, not as a long story short but as a chapter in the kingdom of God? I think we would realize how much more than a punch line we are.
Ali can be reached via email here.