Going Through A Testing Season In Your Spiritual Gifts

Our office at David McCracken Ministries is situated in a lovely, semi-rural area here in Melbourne, Australia. A few days ago, I went on my regular walk past a vineyard during my lunch break. I was amazed to see fresh green shoots springing from the harshly pruned vines.

What seemed so barren and dead for months is now a picture of resurrection life.


I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:1-2)

In the same way that a plant is pruned in order to blossom and bear more fruit, seasons of testing are crucial to the development of our spiritual gifts.

During these times, the best that we have produced seems to have been stripped away from us. God is allowing fruitful areas of our lives and ministries to be cut back, in order that we can focus in a significant way and be even more fruitful for His Kingdom.

11 Signs that you are in a Testing Season

Some signs that you may be experiencing a testing season in relation to your spiritual gifts include:

  • Feeling that you have been shut down in your God-given abilities
  • You might have voluntarily or involuntarily released ministry responsibility and feel displaced as a result
  • You long for the honeymoon period when you first discovered your spiritual gift
  • You might have made mistakes and wonder whether you will ever recover
  • You experience doubts about your ability and wonder if God really called you
  • You find yourself going through character-testing circumstances and coming up short on the character side
  • You wonder whether the prophecies once made about you will ever be fulfilled
  • You feel as though you are being criticised, blocked or resisted
  • You feel battle-worn and weary
  • You feel displaced, separated or hidden in relation to your gift and ministry
  • The opposite of God’s call and the destiny you believed for seems to be happening to you.

A testing season can be specific to a single gift. I have often heard prophetic people relate, mystified, that their prophetic ministry feels as though it has been blocked and yet they are experiencing fruitfulness in other areas of service.

The Season of Trial: What is God Doing?

1. Developing Skills you will need in the Future

Joseph knew that his destiny was one of rulership, but it seemed that his life was taking the opposite course. However, during the time of slavery and unjust imprisonment he developed skills that would be invaluable to his future. He learned the Egyptian language and customs, along with principles of stewardship, leadership and resource management.

During the season of trial, God may be working gifts and skills into your life that you need to fulfil His destiny in the long run.

2. Refining Your Character

During wilderness times, the people and circumstances that try us are instruments that God uses to develop our character and point us towards our destiny. Joseph understood this. He later said to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen 50:20).

3. Repositioning You

During a testing time, God may actually be repositioning us for a new season of fruitfulness.

Elijah went on the run from Jezebel, overnight going from success to mess. (1 Kings 19) He sat under a tree in the desert and actually prayed that he would die. The Lord visited Him and gave him directions for a new season of his ministry. He was to call Elisha as his successor and anoint a new king who would bring Jezebel’s reign to an end.

Elijah had an appointment with God in the wilderness and so do we. During the times of difficulty or separation, allow Him to speak to you about the next season He has for your life.

4. Calling You to Intimacy with Him

Testing times are seasons when we have the opportunity to get closer to God than any other time. Perhaps there are fewer distractions. Perhaps need or barrenness causes us to draw nearer to Him. It is on God’s heart to reveal His love to you in fresh ways during a desert time.

5. Awaiting the Right Timing

While we feel as though we are fighting to survive, God is moving to change the scenery on the stage of our lives—positioning circumstances, others and us for what is to come. [1]

David went on the run from Saul in the wilderness. He was destined to become a king, but he became an outlaw first. He stayed in the desert while God worked things out on his behalf. Saul died and eventually the people called for David to be their new king.

6. Strengthening Your Faith

Abraham is known as the ‘father of faith.’  It was twenty-five barren years before Isaac was born in fulfilment of God’s promise to make him a great nation; God waited until it was physically impossible. Paul later said of Abraham:

Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God. (Rom 4:19-20)

In the Father’s Hands

It is important to recognize that God is at work during the testing season. He is refining both your character and your gift.

How you respond in this season is very important. No matter what you have done, no matter what people have done to you, and no matter what the enemy has done against you, God is sovereignly working ‘all things together for good.’

If you can relate to this today, I pray that you will perceive the hand of God on your life. During pruning, the vine-grower’s hands are closer to the vine than at any other time.

May you sense the Father’s loving touch on your life and receive a revelation of His goodness that will empower you and cause your heart to flow with gratitude and praise.


This post contains an excerpt from my e-book, ‘Grow Your Prophetic And Prayer Gifts.’

The six phases of spiritual gift development are beginning, desiring, emerging, developing, testing and maturing.

‘Grow Your Prophetic And Prayer Gifts’ is a high-value e-book specifically written to help you grow in your gifts of prophecy, intercession, healing, discernment and more – at whatever stage or season you are on the journey.

Check out my e-books page for more e-books related to prophetic and prayer ministry.


Related Posts:
4 Signs You are in Transition in Your Gift or Ministry


© Helen Calder – Enliven Blog

On team with David McCracken Ministries: Prophetic Ministry That Empowers The Church

44 thoughts on “Going Through A Testing Season In Your Spiritual Gifts

  1. Maureen Steininger

    Many years ago I had a dream; the church I was part of had a house as a office seperate from where we held our meetings. In my dream I went to the office – as my custom was – and there were people everywhere. I only recognised two. One was one of the pastors and the other the administration officer – the rest I didn’t know. There on the floor with people milling around her was a woman – she was dead. I went about my business and left only to return a couple of hours later and the woman was still there. I rang the police and was asked why I hadn’t reported it sooner. My response to that was, ‘There were others so many others…’ To which the reponse was; ‘But you saw her … the others didn’t!. He really reprimanded me…’ end of the dream. I sought the Lord as to what it meant … all I got at that stage was the woman represented the church ….. nothing else. Until the other day …. whilst reading a book; Heavy Rain, by Kris Vallotton, the realisation what the dream meant exploded in me. The meaning; the church is dead to her true identity; who she is; why Jesus died; the full meaning His death is to have; her true mission; what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit speaking in our heavenly language; we are a total new creation; a new species of being. The revelation went on …I would be interested in getting some feed back. Thanks :o)

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi there Maureen,
      It’s interesting that you had the dream many years ago, and yet it has obviously impacted you strongly and continues to now. This does seem to indicate that there is a prophetic significance about it.
      As far as your thoughts about the church being dead to her true identity, she has certainly been ‘asleep’. How exciting that we are living right now in a season of awakening (or resurrection, to use your analogy) and that Kris Vallotton and many others, including David McCracken here in Australia, are being significant voices in this hour to bring the revelation to the church of who she is and Whose she is.
      I am excited about how this has impacted me personally.
      Do you believe that God is calling you to live this out and influence others in terms of this revelation of ‘identity?’

    2. J

      This reading has encouraged me tremendously. I feel like I am at a standstill, thank you
      for this reading. God bless you.

  2. Barbara Brass

    I’m so glad I found this article , It helped me to see what I been going through. It explained my situation in great details . I know now where I am and how too get where I’m going . Thank’s

  3. Helen Calder Post author

    Hi Barbara,
    I’m sorry to hear you have been going through a difficult time, I pray that you will be filled with hope and expectation of good things to come.
    As you trust in your Heavenly Father and place your life in His care, the season of transition will lead to great fruitfulness ahead.

  4. FELIX

    wow! Helen, u are indeed a blessing to me, and i believe a lot others too. I have been reading your articles and post a lot, and it seems to me, you have really gone through a lot of experiences in life, trials, tests which come in so many categories. Its amazing how u seem to remember all of them….hehehe . Anyway, i wanna ask, why do people who are connected with the prophetic, go through so many hard times, very difficult ones.
    And secondly, i got a prophecy two years ago that i was called into the prophetic office, but i haven’t seen any obvious manifestation of the “prophetic gifts” in my life. Sometimes i get really worried and doubtful, where i really get compliments is my ability to preach or talk about the word of God which i can’t tell if is a prophetic gift or not. and even with that, i just re-talk on what someone(a preacher, pastor etc) has already written or spoken about, mostly you. don’t know if u get my point, but my question is, am i walking in the will of God or what?

  5. Helen Calder Post author

    Hi Felix, great to hear from you 🙂
    I was listening to Graham Cooke recently and he said, someone asked him what the difference was between the gift of prophecy and the office of the prophet… he said, ‘about 30 years..’ and there is truth in that, there’s a lot of personal preparation to go through with that call on your life, so don’t worry about timing, just be faithful in developing your gift and life and call before God. He will promote and confirm publicly in His time. Also, the word will need to be weighed up and confirmed over time.
    As far as prophetic preaching… it is the same with prophetic worship, too. It’s not about what you preach, or what song that you choose, whether your own, spontaneous or from someone else. It’s not about the source, it’s whether or not it is a ‘Now’ word from God that touches people’s lives right then and there. For more on prophetic preaching, see https://www.enlivenpublishing.com/blog/2012/06/18/8-traits-and-benefits-of-prophetic-preaching/

  6. FELIX

    wow….thank you very much Helen, i am indeed grateful. I will go through that on the prophetic preaching ASAP. I never even knew they had something called “prophetic preaching. THANK U:)

  7. angela

    Thank u so much I relize I am going thru testing and attack as well my granddaughter who is now 4 woke up and spoke their were snakes on the floor days later coming down stairs she stop me because of the snakes she did something with her hand and said I could go now I was told from a profit about the snakes a lot of them my eyes r open my mind is aware I understand my walk and because of it what I will have to deal with and making me stronger for what is to come and my purpose I so grateful to sit and receive understanding of things that have happen in my life and that it is a process I must go thru to do Gods will

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Angela, I’m sorry to hear about the testing times, thank God you serve a powerful and loving God and have all the resources of Heaven at hand as you pray.
      ‘You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.’ (1 John 4:4)

  8. Andrea

    Hi Helen. I have stumbled upon your posts and have read with great interest. This one is especially timely. I had a season of high frequency of hearing from the Lord and several visions but had not heard or seen as much in the same way recently. I have been in that awkward stage of with whom do I discuss such spirit realm things (makes you feel like the odd one out at times) but lately I had also wondered if this wasn’t my calling. I am now in a season that does feel like a battle of sorts (and I see light up ahead!). I think I have come to the conclusion (and your post persuades me further) that this is a time of testing. I must fix my eyes on Jesus and just hold on. I am sure the Lord will unfold things in his time. Thanks for your insights.

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Andrea, thanks for leaving the note, I’m glad the article’s been encouraging for you.
      The Holy Spirit gives a witness to us when something is personal from Him to our situation and it sounds as though a light has turned on for you as you’ve read this. I pray that you remain empowered and encouraged, He certainly will unfold things in His time.

  9. Elmarie Melany Maritz

    I woke up this morning and as I was standing outside I heard the phrase of a song in my spirit, ” when the time is right for me” (Awaiting the Right Timing) I wait for the Lord.Psalm 130:5&6.
    Confirmation, thank you so much.
    God bless you

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Elmarie, I love it! Our Father is so gracious to speak His Word and confirm it. May the song of the Lord continue to pour through your spirit.

  10. Dana Hodge

    um…. hello i was wondering what happens when god strips you of your gift??
    *need answer asap by tomorrow at 8:30

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Dana, I’m not sure what time zone you are in…I’m in Australia.
      God doesn’t strip the gift away, but He does allow us to go through pruning seasons where the visible evidence of that gift at work seems to have disappeared. (For the reasons I outline above)
      People sometimes quote Romans 11:29 in this regard, where it says ‘for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable’.

  11. Princess

    I am really going through a tough time trying to get to a stable place within myself for the Lord Gods will. I am determined to pull through some how. Every test and trial is coming against me and has been for a while. It’s gotta get better I know. I am separated from my husband for six months now, With the intention to Divorce. My family has turned their backs on me so has all of my In laws. I live alone but I know God is right here with me. I’m in a very vulnerable state as well. Can you encourage me my Sister.

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Sorry to hear that, Princess, what a difficult time.

      The Psalmist says,
      ‘Though my father and mother forsake me,
      the Lord will receive me.’ Ps 27:10
      ‘I remain confident of this:
      I will see the goodness of the Lord
      in the land of the living.
      Wait for the Lord;
      be strong and take heart
      and wait for the Lord.’ (Ps 27:13-14)
      These verses come to mind. I pray your heart will be opened at this difficult time to receive the love, strength and hope of the Father deep into your inner most being.

      1. Princess

        Thank you my beloved sister in the Faith AMEN I know God has great plans in store for me I won’t ever ever give up.Amen I thank the Lord for you.Amen

  12. Amanda

    Ugh. I’m glad this popped up in my news feed this morning.
    Was talking to my hubby yesterday about feeling so frustrated. Both with the articles subject and with healing in my foot.
    For years no one seems to be able to figure it out and it’s just a lot of pain. All the time. I have asked God for healing for years as well.
    As with my spiritual gift, it’s just quiet. I’ve got nothin’. I can relate to many of the above points.
    Both a long story…lol but I told him it just feels like what faith I had is gone. I don’t understand it and I soo dislike feeling this way and not close to Him.
    And I don’t like feeling like time is a wasting!
    He said it sounds like it’s a trust issue and it may be connected.
    Which could be accurate as much as I don’t want to admit it… ????
    I know acting solely on how you’re feeling at the moment is rather childish and I need to push through and pray and read my Bible anyway. It’s just really hard to get over this little hump.

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Amanda, I’m sorry to hear about the difficulties you’ve been having. I hope the article I wrote has been an encouragement to you. I remember going through a trial where trust was a real struggle for me. I was waiting to FEEL trust, and it wasn’t happening. Then one day the Holy Spirit spoke to me, that trust is a position I take, not a feeling or emotion. That took a heap of pressure off, I didn’t have to wait to feel trust, I could just choose the position of trust and decide to make that my address, believing that God is trustworthy because the Word says so and because He loves me. Something lifted off me that day and I experienced peace…I pray the same for you.

  13. Olivia

    This have helped me. All sounds like me. Knowing it going to take God to guide me out and only God can heal me. I feel God will sometimes allows our bodies to be attacked for us to be still. Thank you for the message.

  14. Kiki

    Helen,
    I identify with many things in this blog post.
    I want to bless God for your life. I can clearly confirm this wilderness season will be for my good.
    Thank you again.

  15. Lori

    Thank you for your blog. I’m in the wilderness and feel everything you just described. Your blog helps me to understand. I have dreams and visions that come to pass, some messages. I get signs and see the works. I am able to discern spirits and have been in spiritual warfare if not for the Bible and your blog probably would have gone crazy or thought I was. My relationship with God is awesome and He’s teaching me but at the moment I’m in the wilderness so thank you again.

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Lori, thank you for leaving the note… praying you will experience the Presence and peace of the Holy Spirit today and in increasing measure.

  16. Maakopi

    Good day,
    My heart is full of gratitude, to have learnt that indeed forgiveness is of imperative importance in the process of being a prophetess.I have learnt have been falsely accused but in the text above I have learnt to let go and let God. I have also learnt to respect my leader irrespective and trust and obey their leadership skills. and to serve faithfully until God says otherwise.
    thank you sooo much for your teachings, hoping to learn more from you.

    regards,
    Maakopi

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hello Maakapi, I’m glad to hear the article has been a blessing to you – may the experience of God’s grace be abundant on your life and gift! 🙂

  17. Hazel

    Bless you Helen, its been 9 years now that the Lord has revealed my true identity as one anointed for the prophetic ministry. Having a deep sense of spiritual connection to God allowed me over the years to be “nudged” into different seasons of stewardship of service unto the Lord. This opened my understanding to a silent or secret training for the edification of the Body of Christ at Evangelic level, healing, intercession, prophetic through dreams/visions, preaching the Gospel, hospital ministry, teaching including foundational; if just to mention a few. Through it all, the journey has of shortly through Gods intervention of having by revelation given me the key officially to go deeper to another level and represent Him on the alter. This has finally given me the peace and encouragement of knowledge to reflect back on past ministerial challenges and owing it all to what God is doing at work through me and in my life presently. I would appreciate your prophetic advise on the above, thanks.

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Hazel, thank you for your note. My best advice for release into your calling is to be a part of a local church and serving leadership. The outworking of our secret life with God is found in our public service for His church, loving His people.

      1. Hazel

        Bless you Helen and thank you so much for the reply. I thank God for answering my prayer as I waited on Him to usher me into His Will for service, and He directed me and opened a door at a local church. The Lord is good all the time. Amen.

  18. Wendy

    Wow Helen Calder!

    I never thought I would ever be so appreciative of an article written that so clearly defines my last season of being LOST and my current season of being NOT FOUND! At least now I can truly SEE that I am indeed not suffering from acute blindness, or eternal deafness, but that GOD does see me in this place, and he has not forsaken me here!

    It all happened somewhere in a mountainous region where I squatted down on the side of the mountain, completely exhausted from trying not to give birth in the wilderness! Especially since a mountain leopard darted before me and licking his chops, he began to pace back and forth in front of me with great anticipation. I know what He was planning. He was planning on eating my child once it was born. However, it was precisely at that moment, when I was overshadowed by a great lion who I sensed prowled up the side of the mountain in back of me, and HE leaped right overtop of my head and sent the leopard running. He quickly scurried away! For, I know that Jesus, from the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, will not forsake me in any wilderness and He is truly KING of this forest!

    Oh, but I just wish it wasn’t sooo….long in this place! There is no one in sight, and I am constantly on the lookout for other intruders here. I must keep focused and maintain a watchful eye for I have a long journey up ahead, and in my condition. At least I know that the LION is somewhere close by and I sense that HE will appear again just at the right time when I find myself in dire-straits! He is my friend and my ever present help in times of great need.

    Yes, I could answer each statement in the “Testing Season” quiz and place an “affirmative” check-mark beside each line, but at least now I do know that I am not a failure. No, God has not abandoned me sitting in this place of bewilderment and complete isolation. No – God still sits on the throne, even in the wilderness season! Even if I can’t quite see my way out of here, at least now I know why I am here!

    Thank You for the illumination, and counsel. Your article helps ALOT!

    Signed:
    “Hopeful”

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hello Wendy, when I read your story of where you have been and that you have signed ‘Hopeful’, this scripture comes to mind and I pray that it will bless and empower you:
      May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom 15:13)
      I’m glad this article has been an encouragement for you – yes, Jesus is ever Present, despite the way things may seem.

      1. Wendy

        I receive that scripture !

        “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 15:13)

        A few years back, I was seated in the pews of an out-of-town conference, awaiting the Sunday morning service to begin. I did not know the pastors of the house, nor, had they been introduced to me since I was just visiting. As I was sitting there, I began to pray to the Lord quietly to myself and I asked Him specifically, on the spot, to increase my faith. I had been going through some trials and difficulty and my vision was beginning to grow faint, so I had asked the Lord to give me some direction or a supernatural message of some kind. I thought I would put out a “fleece” to see if the Lord would humor me, and respond in kind! I did require His answer!

        I know that the Lord is not to be tested, but quite frankly, I thought it not completely out of line to ask Him in reference to my request, and he could decide whatever He will answer me or not. I thought that was fair but in all honesty, perhaps, I was asking Him for a “sign and a wonder.”

        Then something amazing happened. The Lord deposited this scripture into my spirit, Romans 15:13….

        Immediately, the pastor entered the room to begin his sermon, but first he made a comment. He said, “Before I get started on today’s message, first, the Lord gave me a message for someone here and you know who you are.”

        He continued on to say, “The Lord says to you, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 15:13)

        My eyes hazed over with some tears. My jaw hung open and I sat in utter amazement! This was for me! It sent my heart aglow and a new fire was ignited into my very soul. It was just the right thing. It was the “Hope” that I needed to know that God heard my prayer and I know He is listening even when I feel far from Him.

        “I think today, is another one of those treasured moments!”

        Amazing! I receive it!

  19. Hazel

    Hi, Helen, i would like your divine input on this issue that has been making me go in circles for a long time and especially since i’m involved in the ministry. I am coming from a family of a spiritualist background, and although i thought that as a stern believer in Christ Jesus the strongholds and giants from my ancestral side would be a thing of the past as long as i walked faithfully with the Lord, that they have no hold upon my christian life. I find myself sometimes struggling in all spheres of life especially in ministry, as though there is a contending spirit. i want to know Helen, what will it take to overcome the link to my ancestral past and the evil calling. i am a christian with tremendous challenges and things that happen to me, what will it take for this to be all over. i have recieved so many deliverances but to no avail. Sometimes frestrating.

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Hazel, I’m sorry to hear about the struggles – two ways to experience freedom – one, through the ministry of deliverance, and the other, to grow in faith and the truth of God’s Word and have your mindset changed. If the ministry of deliverance has brought you to a level of freedom but you have hit a ‘ceiling’, that could indicate it is time to focus on growing in the truth of God’s Word, what He says about you, the truth concerning your freedom and His story for your life.

  20. Beatrice S Kinsey

    I enjoyed this article! It seems like I’m either constantly being tested or in the wilderness. In 2013, I received a prophetic word about God preparing a prophetic mantle specifically for me. And recently, the words I received, spoke of me having a strong prophetic mantle. There are some other giftings that manifest with along with the prophetic. I’m trying to determine what my calling is since no prophet has told me, only the Lord has told me. My Pastor definitely recognizes my prophetic gifting. Would consistent testings, be used to develop what He’s told me? In 2010, I had a life-threatening test. It’s here when, my life changed completely. My relationship with God grew closer and I could hear Him clearly. During that time, He taught me about my “identity.” it changed me forever. He told me many things that He was getting ready to teach the church. And one of them was about the same thing that He’d taught me, identity! He wanted to teach us about “whose we are” rather than, “who we are.” Because who we are, is contingent on what we do and is subject to change. “Whose we are in Him,” never changes. He began sending many to me who were dealing with their identity. I noticed the change in them.

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      Hi Beatrice, thank you for that – a beautiful lesson on identity.
      Yes God does often allow circumstances to prepare us for what lies ahead.

    2. Princess

      I KNOW WHOSE I AM I BELONG TO THE IAM WHO I SAY THAT I AM GOD YAHWEH AMEN MY STRUGGLE HAS BEEN OVER COMING THIS PSYCHOLOGICAL DEMONIC FORCE OF FEAR AND OBSESSIONS TO SUBSTANCES THAT NO LONGER SERVE ME. IF BATTLED SINCE I WAS IN MY TEENS AND I AM NOW JUST TURNED 52 YRS.OLD. CAN U HELP ME PLEASE I TRULY AND BELIEVE I CAN BE DELIVERED AND HEALED.

      1. Helen Calder Post author

        Hi Princess, I’m sorry to hear of the troubles and battles. Praying for you right now, for your increase in hope, in faith, and God to reveal the help you need.

  21. Nicole

    Thanks a million. May God bless you. Before I read this i was completely lost and felt like I was losing my mind, but now I understand the stages of my growth.

    1. Helen Calder Post author

      I’m glad to hear the article has been helpful, Nicole. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

  22. puseletso

    2017 i feel like its my testing season

    all mentioned above is happening and i feel frustrated. Helen what happens after this stage? the way its so extreme i feel i dont want to be in the presence of other prophets.
    being a prophetess on its on its an issue.

    thank you very much for the teachings they really helped me understanding who and what i am.
    question: i have been hearing a voice of a man calling me by my name and it happens 3times ,daily in the morning and afternoons.its a voice i hear when God speaks to me what i dont get is that why is he calling me again ? can God call a person more than once for different ministries? coz i feel i have grown in teaching the word as well.
    please make this edition to be daily for i depend on them for survival .
    regards puseletso

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