Stirred by the life and death circumstances present in both her personal and professional life, Shane begins the unfamiliar and emotional journey of examining what's "in [her] heart." What Shane finds there prompts her to "follow her instinct" and make "calls" that revealed an ability to hear God's "still small voice" and "keep his commands" by acting on what she heard. At the same time, God used the circumstances to increase Shane's faith and awareness of Him, and set her up for blessings beyond what she could have ever imagined.
"...Open To It."
It started with those moments when a thought seemed to strike Shane, prompting her to think or act, the consequences of which led to more choices and more decisions. For instance, choosing to take Topper's t-shirt to Dale's office, where observing Oliver and Dale praying caused issues of faith and uncertainty regarding Shane's connection to Oliver to surface. Her introspection intensified as Oliver delivered Eleanor's eulogy, Shane's heart stirred by the thought that "death is nothing to be scared of...but something to prepare for." She begins to see opportunities missed to connect with people in her own life, and seeks to prevent others, like Oliver, from missing the same opportunities. It's this drive which prompts her to call Joe, "pack [Oliver's] bags," and successfully convince Oliver to "spend time with [his] dad." Her ability to hear God's "still small voice," and act on what she heard set up Oliver, Joe and even Shane herself for a miracle.
God wasn't interested in just using Shane to reconcile Oliver and Joe---He also had an interest in continuing the work He had already begun in her.
Over the course of the series we've seen Shane's dynamic growth play out in her relationship with Oliver, development as a postal detective, and her increased faith which, more recently, has even found her paraphrasing scripture. And, of course, there's the eagerness and confidence with which she shared Oliver's Divine Delivery Theory, defending the "ability of the Almighty" to make a "miraculous difference" out of their most recent letter. This growing faith left room for God to reach her in subtle ways, like the introduction of issues which caused Shane to look deeper at herself and her relationship to the world around her.
An Ordinary Altar
From the moment Shane enters the DLO lugging her father's camping gear something divine is occurring. As if reconciling Oliver and his father will ease guilt associated with her own regrets, Shane offers her father's gear, and issues an urgent and emotional plea to Oliver to spend time with his father, having already set their father/son "bonding" in motion. The consequence of Oliver going to camp, however, is the postponement of their dinner. While Shane is pouring her heart out over her own regrets, she also shows a subtle sign of maturity. Desiring more for Oliver and his relationship with his father than for herself, she vows not to "go back to Montaldo's without [Oliver]." In doing so, Shane surrenders her relationship with Oliver, specifically the romantic aspect linked with the restaurant and their date, to God.
Shane didn't realize it, but at its core, the act of transferring the camping gear to Oliver was also her surrendering the guilt of lost time with her own dad. Sending Oliver and her father's gear into the wilderness, Shane surrenders both her guilt and her relationship with Oliver to God, an act of obedience which creates space for a deeper transformation in Shane.
Shane, Herself &...
We aren't used to seeing Shane all alone in the DLO, yet to convince Oliver to go out with his father, Shane promised to "spend the weekend doing whatever [she could], to do whatever [Oliver] would do" to help find Sandy. An unfamiliar circumstance, the solitary nature of the work allowed Shane to prove her faithfulness, as well as exercise her skills as a postal detective. It also allowed God the chance to loosen her dependency on Oliver, Rita and Norman, and subtly increase her dependence on Him.
When Rita calls on Sunday and asks "what about your date," Shane's reply that "it's all good" sounds strongly of burden that's light, as she doesn't seem worried about the fact Oliver's camping trip with his father caused their plans to be postponed. Where Montaldo's used to be imbued with significant meaning in terms of her relationship with Oliver, surrendering him---and their date---seemingly loosened that association.
But perhaps the most difficult for Shane was learning to "trust the timing." This is evident as she arrives to an empty office on Monday. As the day progress, Shane grows more concerned, prompting an attempt to reach Oliver by phone. Unsuccessful, she goes to Joe's house, hoping to find one or both of them there. Realizing neither O'Toole has returned, Shane begins to plan her next move.
The dependence Shane developed over the course of the previous three days within the comfort and confines of the DLO would be tested as she ventured outside its walls, and into unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations in pursuit of bringing Oliver and Joe home.
Making The Call
Having reached the end of what Shane was capable of pursuing on her own, she enlists the help of Dale Travers, who brings her resources to bear in aid of finding Oliver and his father. Despite being uncomfortable, Shane's interactions with Dale were critical in her overall transformation, as it provided an opportunity for Shane to confront more of "what was in [her] heart" with regard to Dale and Oliver's history and matters of faith.
Acknowledging Dale's concern for Oliver couldn't have been easy, as it's clear both women have substantial feelings for Oliver. But discerning the nature of Dale and Oliver's relationship was one of the areas God used to press on Shane's heart and initiate her transformation. Learning the largely platonic nature of their 16 year friendship clarified the situation, but didn't seem to do much to put Shane at ease, especially when Dale attributed it to the "timing was never right, and you've got to trust the timing." Not coincidentally this allows Shane the opportunity to press into questions of faith, particularly prayer, which has always been an unsettling subject for her.
Asking "what's the point" of prayer allows Shane to honestly address this question of faith, but it also reveals why it is such a point of contention for her. If prayer "doesn't change God" and instead "changes us" then that means it requires an act of surrender. To pray requires relinquishing control of a situation---and even ourselves--- a concept with which Shane profoundly struggles. And it's the climax of this struggle which plays out on El Dorado Canyon.
Human comfort only lasted so long, however, as not too much later Shane is on her own again, still visibly unsettled. It's at this point which she seems to make a decision that, despite "not [being] a church person" or "know[ing] how" to pray, finds Shane on her knees in the woods trying the one thing suggested she hasn't tried yet. In lifting Oliver and Joe up in prayer, Shane is surrendering their rescue, control of the situation, and even herself, to God. This act of faith drew Shane into His Presence so that He could replace the guilt and insecurity she carries over her father and relationship with Oliver, and replace it with His Grace and Peace.
Already part of His divine plan, Shane's decision to "follow her instinct" and make "the right call" in the form of her prayer heightened Shane's awareness to how He was moving in the situation. This is evident in how quickly she draws a connection between Sandy's arrival and Oliver's Divine Delivery Theory. Not only is God at work, but, able to retrieve Oliver and Joe from the wilderness, Sandy is also an answer to Shane's prayer specifically. And it's her gratitude for this Divine response that puts Shane in line to receive the blessings God had for her.
Returned Unto You
Given all she had done to bring him home, there's no question Shane's inability to reunite with Oliver as he emerged from the woods was disappointing for her to say the least. But just as she had surrendered Oliver and Joe's rescue to God, she also surrendered the terms of her reunion with Oliver. And just as her "instincts" had guided her thus far, they would once again guide her to a place she "didn't expect" to be.
Shane's transformed heart leads her unprompted to the hospital chapel, grateful for her answered prayer. Where Shane was visibly unsettled both in word and deed earlier in the film, peace permeates her entire being as she sits in the chapel.
Shane didn't realize at the time, but her ability to "follow her instinct" and "make the call," along with being "open" to "the abilit[ies] of the Almighty" was just enough room for God to not only use her in the process of carrying out His Will, but also reach Shane's heart in ways that would increase her awareness---and even dependence---on Him. Shane need only hear God's "still small voice" and act on what she heard to be part of His plan, even when that eventually required her to do the unfamiliar and uncomfortable work of confronting "what was in [her] heart." In the end, her small acts of obedience ultimately opened Shane to surrender herself just enough to allow God to replace her guilt and insecurity with grace and peace, opening Shane's eyes to the miracle unfolding in front of her---and for her---while also drawing her ever closer in her journey "to believe."
Wilderness Series: Introduction | Joe | Oliver | Shane | Norman | Prologue