Shane couldn't have known it at the time, but her astute observation is actually a jarring commentary on Oliver's spiritual state. Not two minutes before did Oliver reaffirm without hesitation his belief that the letters that pass through his Department are on a divine schedule, but when a bet is placed on it, Oliver is "not comfortable wagering the ability of the Almighty" to prove Himself through the wager. More specifically, Oliver is hesitant to ask God to come through for him. When confronted with his paradoxical behavior moments later, Oliver expresses a sense of pride, not realizing it's his tendency to limit God in his own life which has prevented Oliver from fully receiving the blessings right in front of him.
Oliver's wilderness hike with his father reveals "what [is] in [his] heart,”---the heartbreak born of the incident that occurred in the forest decades before and its lingering impact, where, unbeknownst to Oliver, his impulse to limit God began---initiating a miraculous process of healing decades in the making, ultimately releasing Oliver of the burdens he has carried for so long, and freeing him to "start over."
Of course the O'Toole men's hike didn't take them just anywhere, but retraces a very specific path with which both men have deep history. For Oliver, it was a revelation, the key to reconciling his past and a step towards releasing him into his future.
Oliver had to be reminded of---and confronted with---that first trip to El Dorado Canyon and the pain he endured there in order to finally come to terms with it's lingering impact on so many areas of his life and relationships as an adult. In addition to showing Oliver where his pain originated, Joe releases "the little boy deep down inside of [Oliver] that still believes" his mother's abandonment was his fault of all responsibility. He even encouraged Oliver to "leave [the pain] on the mountain," and "go back and start over."
Showing Oliver the source of his pain, however, was only the beginning. Oliver's relationship with his father, damaged that day, was still in need of repair. Joe's puncture wound and declining health served to highlight Oliver's love and need for his dad.
How Oliver would come to let go of his pain was revealed once the act itself was over, evidenced by the way he engaged those with whom his relationships were hindered or complicated as a result of that pain, and its various manifestations.
In the emergency room, not only does Oliver seems more animated defending "providential, perfect timing" to his father, but says "there's been a lot of leaving in this family. Let's not do that anymore." He acknowledges a wound they both share, while simultaneously signaling his intention to leave it in the past and start their relationship anew. Oliver was also empowered to let go of any feelings he harbored for Dale to wholeheartedly pursue a deeper relationship with Shane.
In the chapel, the candidness with which Oliver reveals "what was in [his] heart," the fear of "losing [his] dad...not get[ting] off the mountain...[and] waiting too long to start [his] life over" is further evidence of the freedom he's experiencing. Perhaps most powerful is how Oliver is finally able to make the connection between the "women that truly mattered" and "[broke] his heart," and "learn[ing] to stop taking chances" to avoid being hurt again.
Allowing all of these fears and realities to be covered by prayer when Oliver "thought [he] might not see the sunrise" allowed God to move in these areas. Joe is on the mend, and Oliver has the opportunity to "live long enough to tell [Shane] that he hope[s] [their] first date isn't [their] last," commit to expanding his beverage pallet, and even resolve to accept Shane's level of faith as it stood, only to find she "was starting to believe." This revelation seems to enable Oliver to be even more vulnerable with Shane, kissing her hand and thanking her for "saving his life."
He may not have wanted to go there, but being "up on that mountain" proved Oliver's key to moving forward. When Oliver confronted "what was in [his] heart,"---the decades of risk-aversion developed in response to a broken heart---and committed it to God, he allowed God to move miraculously and in a short amount of time. Working on his behalf, God not only restored his broken relationships, but paved the way for new, significant ones, to be firmly established.
The clarity with which Oliver returns from the wilderness, exhibited by the confidence, decisiveness, and even vulnerability, with which he engages his father, Dale and Shane, cannot be described as anything but absolute freedom, the kind of freedom needed to recognize and receive all the blessings set before him.
Taken together, this is evidence that Oliver serves a big God, who desires to work on our behalf if we would only ask. We also learn that the Almighty is more than capable of proving Himself in abundance, while moving and changing us in the process.
Purged Of Practical,
Wilderness Series: Introduction | Joe | Oliver | Shane | Norman | Prologue