Here's what we learned...
About The Enemy
Keep alert after victory (blessing) as before. Steve has always had a mixed agenda, so it would have behooved Shane and Oliver to be openly suspicious of Steve when they encountered him again, particularly after having just shared their first kiss. Instead, their behavior confirmed they'd forgotten to stay alert, with devastating consequences. Remember, you may have achieved a victory, but that doesn't mean you exercise less discernment or let your guard down. The enemy is waiting for such times to breach your defenses. Shane and Oliver learned this the hard way.
It is what it is, but it might not be what it seems. The enemy will use Steve's and general chaos or discord in your world to get to you and disrupt your peace. When things begin to look like they're falling apart or not going your way, or a friend or family member comes to you in crisis, beware that the enemy might be using the situation to get to you. Commit that situation, friend, or family member to God in prayer. Address the situation to the best of your ability, and show what support you can to those who need it---but don't forget to guard your heart, too.
A Dead DLO? Well, it kind of was in Higher Ground. Another thing we can learn from Oliver's faulty faith formula is how it made him completely ineffective in his calling. By setting him off course, the enemy rendered Oliver ineffective in doing God's work. One need only look at the piles of undelivered letters and packages to see that Divine Delivery Theory went by the wayside. Even Norman and Rita were only able to focus on Gabe's letter for all that time. As for Shane, she ended up applying her gifts in the context of cyber warfare instead of in pursuit of delivering dead letters. A purpose applied in the wrong context is just as ineffective as if were never applied at all. It's easy to forget that other people are dependent on our destiny and doing what God called us to do---people we know, and, like all those undelivered letters, people we don't.
When they started out, Shane and Oliver were "perfectly situated" in their faith, and therefore perfectly connected to God:
God → Faith → Confidence in what we hope for → assurance of what is not seen
It wasn't until the enemy began attacking their vulnerabilities that they became disconnected from God by the faults in their faith formulas and their inability to refocus on Him, which looked like this:
Faith → Confidence in what [Oliver] hopes for → comes from controlling what he can see/outcomes [Oliver’s standard of assurance]
Faith ←→ Sight
Notice God is completely removed from both of these formulas. It's because when you focus on "sight" you forsake "faith" and "faith" is where God lives. Any circumstance that tries to fix your focus on what you can see is most definitely the enemy. BEWARE.
Sometimes the enemy at the gate is YOU (and your faulty faith formula). Like many things, faith is a choice. You have to choose to stay in faith, you have to choose to have confidence in what you hope for, choose to be sure of what you cannot see. (Heb 11:1) As Shane and Oliver discovered, it's easy to get off track. But even when you get off track, you always have the choice to turn back to God and get your formula right. God is so much nearer than you think.
The enemy will always screw up and reveal himself. If you're alert, and willing to interrogate anything that comes at you that contradicts what you know in your heart, you can catch the enemy in the act. When Shane became aware of possible deceit, she didn't hesitate to interrogate Steve. We should test every thought and every message that is spoken over us against what God says about us and our situations---and it's best if we do it first thing. If what you're experiencing or what you're being told doesn't mesh with God's Word or what you know in your heart is right, it's probably the enemy.
Just The Facts. God makes sure you have all the facts when making a decision. Shane and Oliver's moment outside the Ephlat Lounge was His attempt to make sure the couple knew everything they needed to know about their bond before the enemy attacked it, knowledge contained in that kiss. It didn't necessarily help them make any better choices, but it stands in stark contrast to Steve's vague and incomplete request. The enemy would prefer you weren't so discerning as to realize the incompleteness of his approach. God is always clear and forthcoming.
Promises alert the enemy. When God brings a promise into the world, He does so quietly so as not to alert the enemy. This allows God the time and space to build the proper foundation before He reveals what He's built to the world, therefore exposing it to the enemy. That said, God keeps quietly building until the work He's completing is ready or prepared to learn how to withstand attack. God had been quietly building Shane and Oliver's bond for this moment when the enemy was about to attack. By connecting them to each other and to Him in the unseen realm, God established something the enemy ultimately couldn't destroy despite his efforts to. At the same time, God used the enemy's energy to create situations through which Shane and Oliver learned to recognize and protect their bond.
Know Your Way Out. "...God is faithful; and He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." (2 Cor 10:13) One of the greatest lessons from Shane's wilderness journey is how, for every way the enemy attempted to lure her into old habits and other temptations, there was always a way out. When Steve tried to slander Oliver, we can assume Shane stood up for him. When Steve tried to touch her, she guarded her heart with an extra layer of wardrobe. For the majority of the enemy's attacks, Shane combated their effects in the form of letter writing. In each instance she was equipped with what she needed to combat the onslaught. God was faithful to provide every method and tool of resistance, which Shane diligently chose to embrace.
Re-Loaded. The Bible says "No weapon formed against you shall prosper..." (Isaiah 54:17) In Higher Ground, the enemy used Shane and Oliver's "blind spots" as a weapon to tear them apart. But, as the sole steward of their "unseen" bond, God fashioned enemy's weapon meant for evil 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.
Permanent GPS (God Positioning System). God will meet you where you are, but He won't leave you where---or how---He finds you. The greatest illustration of this is Oliver's trek to Langley after Shane. He made sure Oliver received the message he needed from Norman, which positioned him to go after Shane. Grace was Oliver, in spite of himself, turning around to level with Shane, using his hypothetical to reveal the truth she needed to get perspective on her situation, a choice which eventually facilitated her return home, positioning her to once again receive the blessing they had both walked away from months before.
About The Wilderness
All-Terrain Grace. God gives grace for the wilderness, even if you chose it. Remember how Shane demonstrated grace to Oliver, filtering the message through Gabe and Hattie's situation, that Oliver "not be too hard on himself" for not fighting for her, that "[Shane] knew that [Oliver] loved her...she knew." God even made sure Shane told Oliver she would be back, knowing He would eventually bring them back together. It wasn't in God's character to let them go, even though they walked away from the gift with which He was trying to bless them. Instead, being a steady, unchanging God, He was faithful to complete what he started.
Permanently Protected (physically and spiritually). While in the wilderness, God not only protected Shane in a spiritual sense, He also did so physically. The enemy bombarded Shane spiritually with wave after wave of temptation and testing, which God protected Shane from by providing the tools she needed to endure the temptation and resist. But he also did so physically when an actual bomb hit near the compound where Shane was working. It was a literal illustration for the spiritual war Shane was experiencing. From it we can assert the truth that what---and whom---God has His hand on, nothing can destroy. Psalm 91:10-11 says, "...no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." Take comfort that if God did it for Shane, He would do it for you, too.
Got Community? If there's one thing Shane and Oliver's wilderness journeys highlighted, it's the function of faith in community. For Oliver, community was the bumper between him and total despair, whether he realized it or not. Poker night and gardening with his father were the mechanisms through which he learned the things he needed to make new choices and move forward. His experience also highlighted how, even in a community, one can be experiencing a wilderness.
Wilderness without community can look a lot like what happened to Shane. Without feedback mechanisms, Shane was stuck in her own head, a prisoner to her faulty faith formula until Oliver came to confront her complacency and "wake her up."
What lessons did you take away from The Enemy At The Gate series? Has God shown you anything you'd like to share? Let me know in the comments---I'd love to hear all about it. Inspired to write a Living Letter about it? Email me here.
The Enemy At The Gate: The Setup | Insanity Cycle | Breaking The Cycle | Letters From War | The Choice | A Promise Made | A Promise Fulfilled | Unlocked