Their relationship firmly established by faith---by God--- in Lost Without You, that faith came under attack in this latest film. If faith is the “confidence of things hoped for, the assurance of things [unseen],” the enemy challenges that “confidence” by finding ways to cause Shane and Oliver to question their “assurance[s]” over the course of the film.(Heb 11:1)
Scripture implores us to be aware of how the enemy operates, “to keep [the enemy] from taking advantage of us, for we are not [to be] ignorant of his schemes.” (2 Cor 2:11) By tracing the enemy’s path and strategies as each Shane and Oliver encountered them in Higher Ground, we not only see the spiritual battle playing out over their lives, but can extract important perspectives that can be applied to our own.
Spiritual warfare is a reality of Christian life, the daily battle between God and the enemy that plays out on a variety of fronts, through a variety of weapons, many of which are of an “unseen” nature. Every day we have a chance to choose how we respond in the midst of it. In Higher Ground, there’s an underlying spiritual battle taking place over Shane and Oliver’s lives, one through which we can trace their challenges, choices and their outcomes.
The First Phase - Ephlat Lounge
“Maybe God is trying to tell us something…maybe this is crazy---you and me...”
Shane’s innocent, but perhaps telling, inquiry, is actually an opened door---both for God and the enemy. It introduces a conversation in which God is being invited to participate (“trying to tell us something”), as well as a vulnerable area the enemy can target and attack (“maybe this is crazy---you and me”). And it’s a line of dialogue that initiates a struggle which begins to play out in the moments to follow, and even over the course of the film as a whole.
But the question you’re probably asking yourself is, “Why?” Why are God and the enemy suddenly battling through Shane and Oliver?
Here’s our first lesson about the enemy---he likes to attack at the point of blessing. What Shane and Oliver didn’t know is that their first kiss was a blessing, the magnitude of which we didn’t have a vocabulary for at the time, but will eventually. I’ve mentioned in several contexts how that first kiss connected Shane and Oliver in new and more complete ways. It more concretely established faith in their connection with each other. Remember that faith is “the confidence of things hoped for, the assurance of things (like feelings, emotions) [unseen]” or, in this case, feelings and emotions not yet fully expressed. (Heb 11:1) For Shane and Oliver, this kiss becomes proof that they are in love, love being the unseen entity in which they place their confidence, their kiss the assurance of that fact, an event to which they can point, even without the verbal affirmation.
The enemy tried very hard to keep Shane and Oliver from making choices that would lead them to claim that blessing---the confidence, and the assurance that underlies it---outside the Ephlat Lounge. Unfortunately for him, those attempts were unsuccessful. But this wasn’t the last time they would encounter opposition in the pursuit of blessing that evening. While Shane and Oliver achieved a “victory” in one sense by sharing their first kiss, there was still the matter of “actually completing [their] first date.”
With God and the enemy seemingly tied, the battle for blessing takes a new turn on Shane’s porch.
The Second Phase - The Porch
Predicated on fear related to a cyber attack---an “unseen” war in and of itself---Steve enters the fold as an “agent” of the enemy. This is another thing you need to know about the enemy---he can find people and situations to work through to get to you.
Steve didn’t appear on Shane’s porch with the intention of breaking up her date, or even disparaging the state of her porch swing. But mentioning the squeak and projecting his concerns about the “security breach” onto Shane and Oliver certainly had an impact. Talk about breached security!
Besides being firm in not allowing Steve to speak with her alone, Shane only asks how long she might be away, accepting Steve’s wishy-washy estimation. She never questions the fact she needs her passport. What’s worse, when it looks like she will agree, and begins to express her concerns to Oliver about her roses, etc., only then does it come out that she’ll be “incommunicado” for the duration, before reiterating “we really gotta roll.” I’m still not even sure Shane really made a decision about the situation, but her indecision was a decision in and of itself.
At this point, it’s a good thing Shane made the decision to pull Oliver aside. Despite the rush, she at least made an effort to “complete their first date.” It would have also been a good time for Oliver to fight for Shane and ask her to stay, unfortunately, he didn’t take that opportunity.
You see, all of this confusion---Oliver’s decision not to fight for Shane, and Shane’s indecision---caused Shane and Oliver to walk away from the blessing they were meant to receive that night of a “completed first date” the way that God intended. By not resisting the enemy’s direct confrontation through Steve, Shane and Oliver not only surrendered the blessing, but walked straight into their own wildernesses as a result.
Despite his efforts, however, the enemy is no match for God. By the end of this series we’ll see not only how the enemy operates, but how God was faithfully working underneath it all, undermining the enemy the entire time.
Above all, I hope this series causes you to reflect on your own journey and even find "higher ground." I hope you'll take that walk with me.
On The Front Lines,
The Enemy At The Gate: The Setup | Insanity Cycle | Breaking The Cycle | Letters From War | The Choice | A Promise Made | A Promise Fulfilled | Unlocked