Lent 2018: See the Lord's Salvation: Day 23

The Lampstand Oil


Today's Text: Exodus 27:1-21, Zechariah 4:1-14, Revelation 11:1-4  

Scripture Reading: Exodus 27:1-21, Zechariah 4:1-14, Revelation 11:1-4  

In my grandmother’s home, there is no set time for meals. All waking hours are considered appropriate for the one all-day meal of grazing. If you are spotted without a plate in your hands, she furrows her brow and inquires with concern if you need someone to fix you a plate from the options on her table. On one visit, I slipped into the kitchen at 6:30 in the morning to find plates of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, okra, my favorite vegetable soup, and a chocolate cake already laid out as she stood by the stove frying leftover ham and scrambling eggs for breakfast.

In her ninety-three years, she’s experienced more lean seasons than seasons of plenty. She is at rest only when she knows every person in her presence is full—preferably without experiencing even a moment of hunger pangs. Filling us physically is her gift of comfort and affection.

We see a glimpse of what it means to be spiritually filled in these readings about the lampstand oil today. The priests are instructed to fill the lampstand with pure oil regularly in order to keep it burning. The lampstand, in doing the work of providing light to the tabernacle, also served as a constant reminder of God’s presence.

This picture of a lampstand is one Scripture returns to again and again. Jesus says He is the light of the world and gives the same responsibility to His followers (John 8:12; Matthew 5:14). The Apostle Paul describes us as children of the light, a reflection of Christ through the work of His Spirit (Ephesians 5:8).

We are meant to be small lights twinkling in a dark world. But I fail at this on my own, often. A biting retort to someone I love, frustration with my toddler trying to put on her shoes, indifference toward the struggles of a friend. When prayer feels worthless, or when love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control seem like futile options against so much darkness.

The instructions for the lampstand in Exodus 25 describe seven bowls shaped like almond blossoms with wicks placed in them. This isn’t a candelabra. The fire in this lampstand kept burning because it was filled regularly with oil from an outside source, not from burning its own wax like a candle.

Not by strength or by might, but by my Spirit,” says the LORD of Armies.
—Zechariah 4:6

These words in Zechariah remind us again that the source of the light is not us.The Lord shares a picture here of limitless oil, in the form of two olive trees, flowing straight from the source to directly fuel the lampstand. He tells Zechariah that this is the work of the Spirit.

We aren’t replenished by our own strength, or by our own might, but by the Spirit. We have access to what we need in the Spirit; we have fuel from the source. We have this gift from the true Priest who constantly fills us. As we are filled with His Spirit, we become more and more reflective of Jesus. We slowly begin to see the fruit of His faithful, everyday presence and the influence of His light in our lives.

Not by strength or by might, but by the Spirit.


Jessica Lamb consumes books, tea, and street-style tacos with equal ferocity. When she’s not working as the managing editor for She Reads Truth, she can be found singing Broadway tunes off-key or traveling. She lives with her husband, daughter, beloved mutt, and tolerated chickens in Nashville, TN.

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  • Kelly keene

    Oh this was so good God knows exactly what we need to read and hear in the moment thank you so much for sharing

  • Lindsey Bailey

    I sure needed this. I have been running on E. There just doesn’t seem like there is enough of me right now. I’m trying, but the harder I try the more it seems things are forgotten or undone. The other day I was trying to get my toddler dressed. He was playing that game where he runs away and come just beyond my reach, so I can’t get to him. I said, ‘Come closer and I will help you.’ As soon as I spoke those words aloud, I knew the Lord was saying the same to me. My oil is almost gone. I need connection with the one who has an abundance. If I come closer, He will help me.

    • She Reads Truth

      Thanks for sharing this Lindsey, we’re praying for you and are so glad that you’re reading along with us! -Margot, The SRT Team

  • Maureceia

    If we depend on our own strength, we eventually will burn out. But Gods strength is everlasting, eternal. And it never runs dry

  • I enjoyed today’s study! I like how you compare the lamp stand’s oil from an outside source to the light in our lives from an outside source (God) that will continually shine through us. God is our strength and our sustenance. This was a great picture of that for me!

  • Marisa Narro

    This blew my mind. After a rough day at work, I needed this and to be reminded it’s Not MY light, it’s HIS light.

  • Jessica this was just what I needed to hear right now! What a beautiful devotional. I was just reminded yesterday that there is no way that we can attain the fruit of the Spirit on our own, those are GIFTS from the Holy Spirit. Your devotional just drove this home for me!!

  • Rae Ann Smith

    Thank you for this wonderful reminder! I so often try to fill my own lampstand forgetting that the one who has the best oil is always there for me. Holy Spirit fill me so my light reflects you!

  • Jen Jennings

    Wow so powerful! We don’t have to be strong alone by ourselves! We are made stronger in Him! Love it!

  • Leslie Limardo

    Yes! The oil is the Holy Spirit in both. In both examples work is being done through Gods Holy Spirit and not through man. The two witnesses in Revelation are referring to end of times when there will be two witnesses prophesying to people about God. They will be the only light in the dark times. Just as God was a light in the book of Zechariah He will be a light again during those dark times. I hope that helps.

  • I admit to struggling with Bible study. This is the first time I’ve started a study, kept up with it, and I’ve had an understanding of what’s being brought to me.

    Thank you!!

    • She Reads Truth

      Thanks for sharing Kimmie, we’re so glad that you’re here and are a part of our community! -Margot, The SRT Team

  • Mary Abel

    Because he fills me he is made strong in my weakness!

  • Caroline Smith

    Sisters, can you please all pray for me? I would love that so much! I flew 3,000 miles across the country to see a guy that I’ve been friends with for 20 years, and can you please pray that God brings us together?

    • Lynette Muturi

      I pray that you trust in the Lord and walk in tandem with him. I give thanks for the beautiful gift of a friendship spanning 20 years, I pray that whatever comes next in your lives together is God’s will and that we remember to give thanks for bringing us together in all the crazy, unexpected, beautiful way he does. I pray for your happiness Caroline and of a life filled with God’s steadfast love. God bless xxx

    • Churchmouse

      Praying the prayer that always is answered perfectly: God’s will be done. That’s what I pray for you in your situation, Caroline. I have every confidence in our God.

  • Peony Noirr

    In every bad situation, my relationship with God seems the strongest. When things are going right, I admit I forget to thank Him. When things are falling apart, He comes to my rescue again. When I am unable to be strong, the Lord is plenty strong for me!

    • Andrea Obrien

      Peony, I HEAR that! May we always remember to thank God in all seasons. May we always remember “And if not, then He is still good.”

  • Wendy McSwain

    Haha now it will be an ear worm!

  • Chrissy E

    Thank you for helping to tie this morning’s readings together! I must admit, I struggled to find God’s message for me in these passages today. Yet, I know there is purpose. I am grateful that He makes it clear I don’t need to do this alone!

  • Bridget Vaschak

    Good Morning! So, going deeper, I was searching out the connection between the passage from Zechariah and the one from Revelation, and the meaning of the two anointed ones/witnesses. And then I was looking for the connection of those passages to the Exodus passage. And, to be honest, I am confused. Especially at the way the Zechariah and Revelation passages refer to the Holy Spirit?? Do they? I don’t see it. Thoughts?

    • Jessica Mellin

      I’m so glad you asked this because it made me dig deeper too! (Just deep enough to remember how BIG God is!) I’m confused about a lot of the details of these passages, but I can confidently say that I think the oil is the reference to the Holy Spirit in both of them.

    • Jennifer Steinriede

      Good Afternoon Bridget,
      This study was so revealing for me today, and only through the Holy Spirit, b/c I particularly asked for it .I usually pray for understanding before I study. Years ago, none of this would have anything to me but confusion. However, the entire time I have been reading this lesson, the more revelation is being revealed to me and outside sources confirm it. Ex: my stepfather was preparing a lesson for a bible class he teaches, and out of no where, he mentioned Revelation 11 and about the “two witnessess”and how intriguing the chapter was and who are these two witnesses/two annoited ones? As soon as he read the first part of the chapter, I immediately saw a connection. We had just finsished studying the 3 signs of the burning bush. It starts out talking about the meausuring rod/staff . Further in that passage, it mentions Exodus, then lampstands, etc. The second woe is related to the Fifth Trumpet sounding, ( the fifth vision in Zechariah)…relating to the ends of time. The number 3 is constantly shown to me. The two witnessess are also described as having two powers: one has power to kill anyone who harms him by fire, which Elijah had, who never died, also seen on the Mount of Transfiguration, along with who else? Moses. Moses was also on the Mount of Transfiguration, and he had the power to turn water into blood, which is in Revelation 11. I believe Elijah and Moses are the two witnesses and I believe the Holy Spirit is the one who reveals these things to us to make sense of things. This may all sound crazy and you may ask what is my point? All I know is the closer I become to God and his word, the more access I have to the holy spirit and proof that prophecies of the Old Testament have been fulfilled and will continued to be fullfilled, proving Jesus is the true Messiah and and God is the one true God

    • KC Derond

      In The Message version of Zechariah, it says that the olive trees and branches are the “two who stand beside the Master of the whole earth and supply golden lamp oil worldwide.” // and in the same version of Revelation, it says about the 2 witnesses: “these are the two Olive Trees, the two Lampstands”
      The branches would refer to the Holy Spirit, providing the source of Light and goodness. The witnesses are the Lampstands or Olive Trees, giving off the source of light.

  • Jo Gistand

    This is a reminder of why it’s so important to stay connected to the word; so we. An hear from the Holy Spirit! Thank you Lord for your Son who you’ve given to us through the Spirit. Our strength.

  • Deborah Craytor

    This is not related to the lampstand oil, but I just had an insight from the description of the courtyard in Exodus 27:9-16. The courtyard had only one gate, which served as the way of approach to God. Likewise, under the new covenant, there is only a single “gate,” Jesus Christ, giving us the ability to approach God. Those who say that there are many ways to God are, unfortunately, incorrect.

    • Dorothy

      Deborah I had never thought of that but you are so right there is only a single “gate” to God and that is salvation through Christ.

  • Just last night (technically this morning) I felt that emptiness and weakness so vividly while my 6 month old screamed herself to sleep in my arms. In the deepest depravity of my sinful heart, I didn’t want her anymore. I am tearing up just admitting it. Of course I love her, and I would never ever give her up or give her away. But last night, I didn’t feel like loving her. It was only after crying (literally) out to the Lord for help that I was able to choose to lovingly pace the room, singing hymns to her, and finally lull her to sleep. I cannot do anything in my own strength. I am weak and sinful. This was a hard reminder of that truth. Praying that, as I continue to deal with this continually inconsolable child through more sleepless nights, I will lean on Him first and not try to do it on my own. She is His precious gift to me, and I don’t ever want to lose sight of that. I am so blessed that God had allowed me to be her mom. Thank you, Lord.

    • Sarabeth

      Oh Beth, I am right there with you. I also have a 6 month old. She’s teething and constantly wants me to be attached to her. Praying for strength, love, and peace for you this morning and the days to come.

    • She Reads Truth

      Thank you for sharing Beth, we’re praying for continued encouragement and peace for you. So grateful that you’re here! -Margot, The SRT Team

    • Clare

      Praying for you Beth, what a hard place to be, praying that you find support in this and a resolution to why she is so inconsolable. With the experience of 2 children and being a school nurse, I can’t help thinking of my daughter who had food intolerances which made her scream at night, but we didn’t know till she was much older why. Much love to you xx

  • I have what may be a stupid question – but if the Israelites are wandering in the desert following the pillar and eating mannah – where are they getting the olives for the oil and where are they getting the fine cloth and the dyes to construct the tabernacle? Just curious.

    • Dorothy

      Some of the items were brought with them from Egypt, the Egyptians gave them many of their items when they left so that they would leave and the plagues would stop but I don’t know about all of it. The dye many times would come from different plants.

  • Sabrina Michelle

    I can’t do anything in my own strength without the Holy Spirit giving me the strength. He leads me into this community of believers to receive my daily bread. It’s only by His strength that woke up this morning and closed in my right me. Thank you Father.

  • Hmm. So today’s scripture talks about “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses” and also “These are the two anointed ones” . . . who are these two? I know The One, but I havent heard about two yet!

    • Dorothy

      Hi I think may the two anointed ones are Christ and the Holy Ghost (Spirit) but that is only my thoughts.

      • Jennifer Gee Steinriede

        I think it is either “Elijah and Moses” or “Jesus Christ the son and The Holy Spirit. You may be right. Elijah and Moses are tied so much into the two witnesses so much in so many passages and prophecies and revelations in the bible but the number 3 will not leave me. It is all over the bible and everywhere I turn lately. God through the spirit is telling me something and Revelation 11 is something I had never read until randomly my stepfather started talking about it and when he started reading it, I immediately saw our lesson this season directly related to it, and this was right after the burning bush lesson, where Moses receives the three signs with the measuring rod/staff and he can turn water into blood, which is in Revelation 11, which also says it will take place in Sodom/Egypt. The powers of the two witnesses are the same of Elijah and Moses: Rain and turning water into blood. The Mount of Transfiguration: Elijah and Moses. But 3: The Trinity: Makes sense… very interesting

  • Mallie Griffin

    Alice- I think we all have felt that way at one time (at least I have). Prayers for you and don’t stop give up on asking for the Holy Spirit to renew you!

  • Why is it so hard to surrender this? I have an endless supply of strength from the Creator, and yet I want to do it all on my own. I confess Lord! Help me view my challenges as opportunities to turn to you and be filled by you again and again.

  • God fill me with your spirit. Replenish me with YOUR strength, not my own. I pray for the light to keep burning. I need You.

    • Kim

      This is my prayer for today as well. Focus on the true strength of the Lord to fill me and carry me not from outside sources.

  • I am so encouraged by this. So many times I forget that I am filled by the Spirit not by my own strength and might. I love that no detail is too small for our God. “The fire in this lamp stand kept burning because it was filled with oil regularly from and outside source not from burning it’s own wax like a candle.” YES!! We need to be in regular communion with God in order to keep our light burning. We burn out when we don’t do this. Thank you Jessica for writing this. It speaks so well to me in this part of my journey!

  • Too often, I lean on my own abilities and what I believe will “fill my tank” instead of turning to God. Thank you for this comforting essay. He is the ultimate source!

  • Leigh AnneAkey

    “This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose Word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.” Psalms 56:9b – 11a

  • Churchmouse

    Ugh tender HEARTED daughter. Sorry I didn’t proofread before I hit ‘post’

  • Churchmouse

    B, you will be the Light in that new city. He is already preparing the way. And He will hold you and comfort you and speak His trustworthy words in your ear, even as you have done for your sweet tender- hatred daughter. Lifting you and your family up in the mighty name of Jesus.

  • The words, “I don’t know how I/we are gonna be able to do this” have come up more times than I can count in the last year (almost to date) and each time we’ve been reminded that it isn’t us that we need to rely on in it. If it is to “be done” it will only come through God and we’ve seen it but I have to be honest, last week was a hard week and on Friday night I was tearful over the amount of losses in our life. We arrived home from a visit to the city we will be relocating to in the next three months or so and while we enjoyed the time and it is a perfectly fine city, none of us left uber excited about living there, there wasn’t something that was saying, “Yes, yes, this is it, this is the place” and with prior moves God had provided a great peace but this one feels different, we are all wary over it and when we arrived home Tuesday night it only hurt more because this city, Cincinnati, became one we’ve truly come to love but we pushed through, we prayed and agreed we would all be okay, we know God will come through and make all the necessary preparations for us, we can do this because we have God. Then came Thursday night, my 12-year-old daughter’s dog seemed unwell and within 13 hours of being a healthy, inseparable 10-year-old pup filled with life we were saying good-bye to him. This pup was like a little soul mate to my high functioning autistic daughter’s sweet soul … these two spent every waking and sleeping moment possible together and now she would face a life she didn’t know would exist, one without him. We’ve had so many conversations about when she will see him again and with each tear and each hug I have had to remind her that God sees her and loves her, that with Him, she will get through this.

    I am so grateful that in a life filled with challenges, God has been gracious enough to provide His Spirit with us EACH moment of this life. There isn’t a moment or decision or experience we have to go through without Him holding us in the meantime. He prepares the way, but walks with us in it all. I’m so thankful that I can point my daughter to Him in the midst of her misery, that she can seek solace from Him and that she can be comforted by our very Maker, that each tear is held by Him. So thankful, that He doesn’t leave us to fend for ourselves … what a loving Father. Further grateful that He allows us to be lights FOR Him, and we will seek to do this in this loss and in our new home. ~ Betsy P.

    • M

      Such beautiful words to read this morning. Praying for both you and your sweet daughter, that you both can find comfort and peace throughout these transitions.

    • Diane

      “with each tear and each hug I have had to remind her that God sees her and loves her, that with Him, she will get through this” – yes! This was my conversation with my 11yo daughter yesterday, as we lay on the floor for an hour yesterday hugging, crying, sometimes singing praise songs. We are preparing for a move also. After 5 years of living overseas as long-term workers, God closed the door for us there and we have spent 6 months “in limbo” in the US trying to discern what he has next for us. On Saturday we are moving to a new location – new country, new people, new languages and culture – with what feels like all unknowns and uncertainties. The only known certainty, the only sure constant is God and his presence with us. We are so thankful for this. We could never do this on our own, in our own strength and might – only by his Spirit! What a gift!

      • ~ B ~

        So much change Diane! I will include you all in prayer as you prepare for this new journey! What an amazing experience! I wish you all safe travels on Saturday and great surprises along the way!

    • Michelle

      I am moved by your faith and strength. Your daughter is lucky to have you to guide her to Him during this difficult time. I pray you and your family find comfort in Him and in your happy memories. A dog’s unconditional love is such a wonderful blessing if only they could be with us longer!

      • ~ B ~

        Michelle, Thank you for your kindness over me and mine. It is such a kindness that God knows us enough that He gifts these sweet little critters this side of heaven, we are beyond lucky to have them.

    • She Reads Truth

      Thanks for sharing B, we’re praying for you and your family during this time. -Margot, The SRT Team

    • Dorothy

      Betsy I know how it is to move with young children, when my boys were young we moved many times and we had pets and several times we had to leave them behind.

      • ~ B ~

        Dorothy, moving manages to present something new each time, doesn’t it? I’m so sorry that you’ve had to leave pets behind, that’s a portion I’ve only endured once and it was a horrible season and something that I think to often, I can imagine your pain in the process but I am so grateful that we have a Father who takes this pain and assures our hearts in it. I hope you’re able to enjoy a season settled free of moving and with all the wonderful critters you desire.

  • Churchmouse

    I have my original study Bible, now nearly 35 years old. Well worn. Oh so many notes in the margins. Particular verses dated. Tear stains. The binding broken. A few pages torn. It is beloved. Our youngest daughter has requested that I bequeath it to her upon my death. How sweet that she wants it. How wonderful that she realizes its value. But I have two daughters… And so I have another Bible in which I am replicating the original. It is a pain-staking task to bend over the original, take pen in hand, and copy from the old into the new. But oh what a blessing to do so – to reread and recall the import of so many verses. Verses that shed Light into the darkness of a particular time and circumstance. Fresh tears fall over His faithfulness. Every underlined verse is a Light saber thrusting up and out of my Bible, penetrating the darkness. Every time I open it, the Light is there. I go to the lightstand that is my Bible, open and bask in His presence. He is my beloved. What sweet and powerful communion.

    • cherished

      What cherished words they will be for your daughters, and what a beautiful way to extend the light in you to them.

    • Mamajonk

      What a beautiful labor of love!

    • Dorothy

      I remember finding several Bibles similar to those of yours churchmouse when my father died, one had a zipper falling off that he got in his childhood, this particular Bible I gave to my paternal aunt. The other one, my siblings and nieces and nephews, allowed me to have which I carry with pride.

  • Thank you SRT for bringing all these verses together so I can better understand!

    • She Reads Truth

      We’re so glad to hear that Laura, we’re so grateful that you’re a part of our community! -Margot, The SRT Team

  • My dad is having brain surgery tomorrow. This a great reminder that strength comes from the Holy Spirit and not from my own storehouse. Thank you, and if you could please pray that we will be filled and restored with the spirit, that would be awesome.

    • Churchmouse

      Praying that you feel the peace of His Presence and that He works through the surgeons to heal your father.

    • Andrea

      I’m praying for all of you, Liz! God’s will be done…

    • Elise

      Praying for you, your dad and your family right now. That you’d have peace, and a successful surgery for your dad.

    • Cassie Kendall

      My dad went through melanoma a year and a half ago. He is doing great now, but I definitely understand the fears and struggles that we deal with when our parents are sick. Prayingfor your dad and your whole family today!

    • Dorothy

      My prayers are for you and your family.

  • Kymyetta Turner

    We all need reminders from time to time. I thank God for loving me so much, that He places people and situations in my life to remind me to place my weakness in Him and to let Him be my strength. I am absolutely loving these readings from Exodus. I see this book in a whole new light. Have a blessed day ladies. ☺

  • Julie Whitacre

    Isaiah 42:3 “a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” I cling to this promise when I am tired/numb/discouraged. Praying for you with hope, Alice!

  • Jessica McCreary

    Great reminder that it’s not in my own strength but His strength! ❤️

  • Tochi Heredia

    I can’t judge the Israelites for forgetting the true meaning behind the rituals. I too am guilty of trying to earn my ‘spiritual meals’. I do things I think might bring me closer to fullness, like reading God’s Word every morning or going to Church and small group every week, yet during the rest of my days I am trying to satisfy myself with junk food. No matter how hard I try to achieve fullness on my own, I always end up starving.
    Lord, fill me up! Pour Your Spirit over every part of me and satisfy my hunger for You. Forgive me for being a fool and consuming what I know will harm me. Give me wisdom and discernment.

    • Kristine Loughman

      Amen! And it is that very junk food that kept the Tabernacle hopping, people constantly having to return with another atonement because of the constant sin that rears its head! It’s one thing to be filled with awe and wonder when I’m standing IN the presence of God (at church, during this devotional) but then, like you said, the junk food of the world… thank goodness for the Spirit and that never ending source of Light!

  • nursedodie

    I all too often ignore or don’t see the light God puts out for me to see as answers to my prayers. You my sisters have brought my spirits up, reminded me to leave it all in God’s hands – including whether I should stay at the job I am at come May or leave – and that the more Christian family you have praying about something the more likely the answer will come through them. Thank you sisters

    • Churchmouse

      Praying for wisdom regarding your job. I know you are trusting the Lord to reveal His will.

  • Alice Carroll

    I know it is not in my own strength, and I feel my own weakness- but nor do I feel the Spirit filling me either. Pray for me.

    • Tina

      Alice. With the Spirit within me I will and am praying for you..
      He is near… always…
      Sending some love wrapped hugs and prayers..x

    • nursedodie

      I too will pray for you I have been in your shoes

    • Tochi Heredia

      Alice –I feel you. I have realized that whenever I feel empty, it’s because I’ve been feeding myself things that do more harm than good.
      I can tell you that if you ask the Spirit to satisfy your hunger for Him, you will never be hungry again. Praying for you this morning.

    • Jessica McCreary

      Praying for you Alice!

    • Jessica M

      Even when you can’t feel the Spirit, He is interceding for you with groanings too deep for words. I also think that sometimes we’re too focused on our feelings, and that perhaps His strength is best seen in us when we continue to have faith despite feeling weak or feeling nothing at all. Joining the community in prayer for you today. <3

    • Churchmouse

      Praying that you listen to worship music and that you let yourself fall into His arms. Your heavenly Father loves you so much. Open His 66 love letters to you. Release your heart and mind to hear and listen. Read slowly. Write down what You hear Him say. Tell a trusted Christian friend. Repeat. This has often helped me when I have been overwhelmed by my weakness and can’t God was silent. Just keep on keeping on. He is there and He will answer.

    • Lisa Martin

      Alice, we all have been in this place before. I have often found comfort in Romans 8:26:
      “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for our us with groanings too deep for words.”
      Even when we don’t feel Him or even have the words, He is there interceding on our behalf. Praying you can rest in this gift today.

    • Sabrina Michelle

      That’s good Lisa, just to add from that, it’s just like driving along with your GPS. If your going in the right direction, she doesn’t speak but she is still working. She waits to give you instructions just before it’s time to turn. Let me encourage you to continue reading and praying to God, the Holy Spirit is working inside you so continue to press and renew your mind daily. Prayer for you.

    • Ruth Lorentz

      Praying for you!

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