Unbeknownst to Shane and Oliver, their relationship was one of those promises, which God had been quietly weaving together on a deep level throughout the course of the series, solidifying that bond in Lost Without You. By praying for, or about, each other in the wilderness, they came into agreement with God, and their acts of faith became an unseen "key" that unlocked a new space both in their relationship with God, and with each other, signified by the chapel they found themselves in. When Shane tripped into Oliver’s arms, eventually leading to their first kiss in Higher Ground, it was God revealing that promise to them in a tangible way. He promised them not only each other, but a completed first date. At the same time, however, the kiss also alerted the enemy.
The fact it alerted the enemy means something. It means that God established, revealed, and added a weapon so powerful to Oliver and Shane’s arsenal with that kiss that the enemy had to make sure they never used it again, or had the chance to realize its true power. They certainly couldn’t have knowledge of the true source it was connected to, hence the events that ensued designed to divide and conquer the couple by both physically separating them and targeting their faith. The enemy couldn’t usurp God promising Oliver and Shane to each other, but he could rob them, temporarily, of a completed first date.
It was this surrendering of their faith which the enemy took advantage, targeting each Shane and Oliver in ways that caused them to not only temporarily part ways, but assume a false sense of control by attempting to make the “unseen” element of their bond something tangible. Not only did this taking of control turn each Oliver and Shane away from God, but disrupted them in such a way that they didn’t hold onto---and perhaps even forgot---God’s promise to be the permanent steward of their “not seen” bond and to “complete their first date.” As a result, they exhausted their energy---and even their faith---carrying a burden that was never theirs to carry.
God Of The Wilderness
God made sure Oliver and Shane had “all the facts” about their bond through that kiss before the enemy had a chance to confront them. Even so, because He gave us free will, it was still Oliver and Shane’s choice to “know what they [had]” and resist the enemy. Still new, however, this space God created in their relationship---and the new level of connection it contained---was untested. Unfortunately, Shane and Oliver also lacked the proper tools or understanding to defend “what they [had].” The enemy took advantage of these blind spots in each Oliver and Shane’s lives rooted in their pasts, using them to pervert their faith formulas and set them off course.
What the enemy meant for harm, God used to do an immeasurable amount of good, growing Shane and Oliver so that they might be prepared to experience the blessing set before them in all its fullness when the time came. We can best understand their development by placing it in the context of their faith formulas.
The original faith formula looked like this:
God → Faith → Confidence in what we hope for → assurance of what is not seen
To set Oliver off course, the enemy began attacking Oliver’s “assurances of things not seen” resulting in:
Faith → Confidence in what [Oliver] hopes for → comes from controlling what he can see/outcomes [Oliver’s standard of assurance]
In operation, Oliver created his “assurances of things not seen” by relentlessly pursuing whatever it took to keep Shane---and by extension his hope---alive. It resulted in an “insanity cycle,” where Oliver created his hope by keeping his commitment to “handle things,” finding Gabe and eventually trying to find Hattie, a cycle that eventually proved exhausting and ineffective as a long-term strategy.
Concurrently, God was leaving breadcrumbs for Oliver to chart his path out of the “insanity cycle” and into the promise God set before him. God created for Oliver the recognition of what he had with Shane through highlighting the professional and personal hole created by her absence. But more than recognizing the void, Oliver had to be equipped to defend against recreating that void once Shane returned to him. To do this, God utilized the community of men by which he was surrounded, primarily Joe, Norman, and by extension, Gabe, to teach him how to fight for Shane and their bond.
His “insanity cycle” broken, Oliver was prepared to deal with the feelings that fueled the cycle, setting the stage for his return to the DLO.
To confuse Shane, the enemy took advantage of her indecision between “faith” and “sight,” which looked like this:
God Faith ←→ Sight
In operation, Shane attempted to make her faith tangible by trying to find Hattie and writing letters to Oliver. Despite “faith” and “sight” being the antithesis of one another, and the enemy attempting to bombard her with temptation to put her faith in the wrong thing, God used Shane’s confusion to create clarity.
Shane’s letters to Oliver demonstrated the way she resisted the enemy, as well as revealed her process of becoming more cognizant of what was on her heart, reaffirming what---and whom---was most important to her on a personal level.
In addition to her letters, Shane also learned how to guard and protect her heart, a lesson visible in her wardrobe. After Steve attempts to get close to her without a jacket early on, each time we see Shane afterwards, she has adopted layers and retained a more utilitarian look overall, more or less “saving herself” for Oliver.
Where the enemy meant to create distraction and confusion through “sight,” Shane chose to hold onto “faith.” By doing so, Shane allowed God to create clarity and reveal what was most important to her on an “unseen” level, giving her the tools to explore, develop and express those values and desires at the same time. Shane had already made the internal decision to pursue “faith,” she just needed the tools to pursue and declare that externally.
Having shown Shane what to fight for, God was able to reveal to her how to fight for it. Through Oliver’s not-so-“hypothetical” scenario, God forced Shane to confront the possibility that she might not have all the facts she needed to make the decision whether to stay or go. From their interaction, God also presented Shane with a fact---“[Oliver] can’t lie to [her],” and the “fact” she still needs to make her decision---if Steve could lie to her. When Shane discerned the answer through her confrontation with Steve, Shane finally had the tools she needed to outwardly declare the choice she had already made internally.
As the true, sole steward of the “not seen” element of their faith, God took even their faulty faith formulas---what the enemy meant for Oliver and Shane’s harm---and acted as their “long distance operator,” protecting and even growing the bond He established during their separation. More than that, He forged their path out of the wilderness by revealing and transforming the blind spots they fell victim to in the first place, instilling in them the tools to defend and grow their bond in the future. Oliver and Shane’s individual journeys uniquely prepared them for their reunion, which we see play out in the DLO.
Later this week, we’ll see how God finished what He started with Shane and Oliver, defeating the enemy and bringing them into the “Promised Land.”
The Enemy At The Gate: The Setup | Insanity Cycle | Breaking The Cycle | Letters From War | The Choice | A Promise Made | A Promise Fulfilled | Unlocked