Gods Pathway To Human Hearts
God's Pathway to Human Hearts.
God touches men through men. The Spirit's path to a human heart is through
another human heart. With reverence be it said, yet with blunt plainness
that in His plan for winning men to their true allegiance God is limited
by the human limitations. That may seem to mean more than it really does.
For our thought of the human is of the scarred, warped, shrivelled
manity that we know, and great changes come when God's Spirit controls.
But the fact is there, however limited our understanding of it.
God needs man for His plan. That is the fact that stands out strong in
thinking about prayer. God's greatest agency; man's greatest agency, for
defeating the enemy and winning men back is intercession. God is counting
mightily upon that. And He can count most mightily upon the man that
faithfully practices that.
The results He longs for are being held back, and made smaller because so
many of us have not learned how to pray simply and skilfully. We need
training. And God understands that. He Himself will train. But we must be
willing; actively willing. And just there the great bother comes in. A
strong will perfectly yielded to God's will, or perfectly willing to be
yielded, is His mightiest ally in redeeming the world.
Answers to prayer are delayed, or denied, out of kindness, _or_, that more
may be given, _or_, that a far larger purpose may be served. But deeper
down by far than that is this: _God's purposes are being delayed_; delayed
because of our unwillingness to learn how to pray, _or_, our slowness--I
almost said--our stupidity in learning. It is a small matter that my
prayer be answered, or unanswered; not small to me; everything perhaps to
me; but small in proportion. It is a tremendous thing that _God's purpose_
for a world is being held back through my lack. The thought that prayer is
_getting things_ from God; chiefly that, is so small, pitiably small, and
yet so common. The true conception understands that prayer is partnership
with God in His planet-sized purposes, and includes the "all things"
beside, as an important detail of the whole.
The real reason for the delay or failure lies simply in the difference
between God's view-point and ours. In our asking either we have not
reached the _wisdom_ that asks best, _or_, we have not reached the
_unselfishness_ that is willing to sacrifice a good thing, for a better,
or the best; the unselfishness that is willing to sacrifice the smaller
personal desire for the larger thing that affects the lives of many.
We learn best by pictures, and by stories which are pen or word pictures.
This was Jesus' favourite method of teaching. There are in the Bible four
great, striking instances of delayed, or qualified answers to prayer.
There are some others; but these stand out sharply, and perhaps include
the main teachings of all. Probably all the instances of hindered prayer
with which we are familiar will come under one of these. That is to say,
where there are good connections upward as suggested in our last talk,
_and_, excepting those that come under the talk succeeding this, namely,
the great outside hindrance. These four are Moses' request to enter
Canaan; Hannah's prayer for a son; Paul's thorn; and Jesus' prayer in
Let us look a bit at these in turn.
For the Sake of a Nation.
First is the incident of Moses' ungranted petition. Moses was the leader
of his people. He is one of the giants of the human race from whatever
standpoint considered. His codes are the basis of all English and American
jurisprudence. From his own account of his career, the secret of all his
power as a maker of laws, the organizer of a strangely marvellous nation,
a military general and strategist--the secret of all was in his direct
communication with God. He was peculiarly a man of prayer. Everything was
referred to God, and he declared that everything--laws, organization,
worship, plans--came to him from God. In national emergencies where moral
catastrophe was threatened he petitioned God and the plans were changed in
accordance with his request. He makes personal requests and they are
granted. He was peculiarly a man who dealt directly with God about every
sort of thing, national and personal, simple and complex. The record
commonly credited to him puts prayer as the simple profound explanation of
his stupendous career and achievements. He prayed. God worked along the
line of his prayer. The great things recorded are the result. That is the
simple inferential summary.
Now there is one exception to all this in Moses' life. It stands out the
more strikingly that it is an exception; the one exception of a very long
line. Moses asked repeatedly for one thing. It was not given him. God is
not capricious nor arbitrary. There must be a reason. _There is._ And it
is fairly luminous with light.
Here are the facts. These freed men of Egypt are a hard lot to lead and to
live with. Slow, sensuous, petty, ignorant, narrow, impulsive, strangers
to self-control, critical, exasperating--what an undertaking God had to
make a nation, _the_ nation of history, about which centred His deep
reaching, far-seeing love ambition for redeeming a world out of such
stuff! Only paralleled by the church being built upon such men as these
Galilean peasants! What victories these! What a God to do such things!
Only a God could do either and both! What immense patience it required to
shape this people. What patience God has. Moses had learned much of
patience in the desert sands with his sheep; for he had learned much of
God. But the finishing touches were supplied by the grindstone of friction
with the fickle temper of this mob of ex-slaves.
Here are the immediate circumstances. They lacked water. They grew very
thirsty. It was a serious matter in those desert sands with human lives,
and young children, and the stock. No, it was not serious: really a very
small matter, for _God was along_, and the enterprise was of His starting.
It was His affair, all this strange journey. And they knew Him quite well
enough in their brief experience to be expecting something fully equal to
all needs with a margin thrown in. There was that series of stupendous
things before leaving Egypt. There was the Red Sea, and fresh food daily
delivered at every man's tent door, and game, juicy birds, brought down
within arms' reach, yes, and--surely this alone were enough--there was
living, cool water gushing abundantly, gladly out of the very heart of a
flinty rock--if such a thing can be said to have a heart! Oh, yes it was a
very small matter to be lacking anything with such a lavish God along.
_But they forgot._ Their noses were keener than their memories. They had
better stomachs than hearts. The odorous onions of Egypt made more
lasting impressions than this tender, patient, planning God. Yet here
even their stomachs forgot those rock-freed waters. These people must be
kinsfolk of ours. They seem to have some of the same family traits.
Listen: they begin to complain, to criticise. God patiently says nothing
but provides for their needs. But Moses has not yet reached the high level
that later experiences brought him. He is standing to them for God. Yet he
is very un-Godlike. Angrily, with hot word, he _smites_ the rock. Once
smiting was God's plan; then the quiet word ever after. How many a time
has the once smitten Rock been smitten again in our impatience! _The
waters came_! Just like God! They were cared for, though He had been
disobeyed and dishonoured. And there are the crowds eagerly drinking with
faces down; and up yonder in the shadow standeth God _grieved_, deeply
grieved at the false picture this immature people had gotten of Him that
day through Moses. Moses' hot tongue and flashing eye made a deep moral
scar upon their minds, that it would take years to remove. Something must
be done for the people's sake. Moses disobeyed God. He dishonoured God.
Yet the waters came, for _they needed water_. And God is ever
tender-hearted. But they must be taught the need of obedience, the evil of
disobedience. Taught it so they never could forget.
Moses was a leader. Leaders may not do as common men. And leaders may not
be dealt with as followers. They stand too high in the air. They affect
too many lives. So God said to Moses:--"You will not go into Canaan. You
may lead them clear up to the line; you may even see over, but you may not
go in." That hurt Moses deep down. It hurt God deeper down, in a heart
more sensitive to hurt than was Moses'. Without doubt it was said with
_reluctance_, for _Moses'_ sake. But _it was said_, plainly, irrevocably,
for _their_ sakes. Moses' petition was for a reversal of this decision.
Once and again he asked. He wanted to see that wondrous land of God's
choosing. He felt the sting too. The edge of the knife of discipline cut
keenly, and the blood spurted. But God said:--"Do not speak to Me again of
this." The decision was not to be changed. For Moses' sake only He would
gladly have changed, judging by His previous conduct. For the sake of the
nation--aye, for the sake of the prodigal world to be won back through
this nation, the petition might not be granted. That ungranted petition
taught those millions the lesson of obedience, of reverence, as no
command, or smoking mount, or drowning Egyptians had done. It became
common talk in every tent, by every camp-fire of the tented nation. "Moses
disobeyed,--he failed to reverence God;--he cannot enter Canaan."--With
hushed tones, and awed hearts and moved, strangely moved faces it passed
from lip to lip. Some of the women and children wept. They all loved
Moses. They revered him. How gladly they would have had him go over. The
double-sided truth--obedience--disobedience--kept burning in through the
In after years many a Hebrew mother told her baby, eager for a story, of
Moses their great leader; his appearance, deep-set eyes, long beard,
majestic mien, yet infinite tenderness and gentleness, the softness of
strength; his presence with God in the mount, the shining face. And the
baby would listen so quietly, and then the eyes would grow so big and the
hush of spirit come as the mother would repeat softly, "but he could not
come over into the land of promise because _he did not obey God_." And
strong fathers reminded their growing sons. And so it was woven into the
warp and woof of the nation--_obedience, reverent obedience to God_. And
one can well understand Moses looking down from above with grateful heart
that he had been denied for _their_ sakes. The unselfishness and wisdom of
later years would not have made the prayer. _The prayer of a man was
denied that a nation might be taught obedience_.
That More Might be Given and Gotten.
Now let us look a bit at the second of these, the portrait of Hannah the
Hebrew woman. First the broader lines for perspective. This peculiar
Hebrew nation had two deep dips down morally between Egypt and Babylon;
between the first making, and the final breaking. The national tide ebbed
very low twice, before it finally ran out in the Euphrates Valley. Elijah
stemmed the tide the second time, and saved the day for a later night. The
Hannah story belongs in the first of these ebb-tides; the first bad sag;
the first deep gap.
The giant lawgiver is long gone. His successor, only a less giant than
himself is gone too, and all that generation, and more. The giants gave
way to smaller-sized leaders. Now they are gone also. The mountain peaks
have been lost in the foothills, and these have yielded to dunes, and
levels; mostly levels; dead levels. These mountains must have had long
legs. The foothills are so far away, and are running all to toes. Now the
toes have disappeared.
It is a leaderless people, for the true Leader as originally planned has
been, first ignored, then forgot. The people have no ideals. They grub in
the earth content. There is a deep, hidden-away current of good. But it
needs leadership to bring it to the surface. A leaderless people! This is
the niche of the Hannah story.
The nation was rapidly drifting down to the moral level of the lowest. At
Shiloh the formal worship was kept up, but the very priests were tainted
with the worst impurity. A sort of sleepy, slovenly anarchy prevailed.
Every man did that which was right in his own eyes, with every indication
of a gutter standard. "There was none in the land possessing power of
restraint that might put them to shame in anything." No government; no
dominant spirit. Indeed the actual conditions of Sodom and her sister
cities of the plain existed among the people. This is the setting of the
simple graphic incident of Hannah. One must get the picture clearly in
mind to understand the story.
Up in the hill country of Ephraim there lived a wise-hearted religious
man, a farmer, raising stock, and grain; and fruit, too, likely. He was
earnest but not of the sort to rise above the habit of his time. His farm
was not far from Shiloh, the national place of worship, and he made yearly
trips there with the family. But the woman-degrading curse of Lamech was
over his home. He had two wives. Hannah was the loved one. (No man ever
yet gave his heart to two women.) She was a gentle-spoken, thoughtful
woman, with a deep, earnest spirit. But she had a disappointment which
grew in intensity as it continued. The desire of her heart had been
withheld. She was childless.
Though the thing is not mentioned the whole inference is that she prayed
earnestly and persistently but to her surprise and deep disappointment the
desired answer came not. To make it worse her rival--what a word, for the
other one in the home with her--her rival provoked her sore to make her
fret. And that thing _went on_ year after year. That teasing, nagging,
picking of a small nature was her constant prod. What an atmosphere for a
home! Is it any wonder that "she was in bitterness of soul" and "wept
sore"? Her husband tenderly tries to comfort her. But her inner spirit
remains chafed to the quick. And all this goes on for years; the yearning,
the praying, the failure of answer, the biting, bitter atmosphere,--for
_years_. And she wonders why.
Why was it? Step back and up a bit and get the broader view which the
narrow limits of her surroundings, and shall I say, too, though not
critically, of her spirit, shut out from her eyes. Here is what she saw:
her fondest hope unrealized, long praying unanswered, a constant ferment
at home. Here is what she wanted:--_a son_. That is her horizon. Beyond
that her thought does not rise.
Here is what God saw:--a nation--no, much worse--_the_ nation, in which
centred His great love-plan for winning His prodigal world, going to
pieces. The messenger to the prodigal was being slyly, subtly seduced by
the prodigal. The saviour-nation was being itself lost. The plan so long
and patiently fostered for saving a world was threatened with utter
Here is what He wanted--_a leader_! But there were no leaders. And, worse
yet, there were no men out of whom leaders might be made, no men of
leader-size. And worse yet _there were no women_ of the sort to train and
shape a man for leadership. That is the lowest level to which a people
ever gets, aye, ever _can_ get. God had to get a woman before He could get
a man. Hannah had in her the making of the woman He needed. God honoured
her by choosing her. But she must be changed before she could be used. And
so there came those years of pruning, and sifting, and discipline. Shall
we spell that word discipline with a final g instead of e--discipling, so
the love of it may be plainer to our near-sightedness? And out of those
years and experiences there came a new woman. A woman with vision
broadened, with spirit mellowed, with strength seasoned, with will so
sinewy supple as to yield to a higher will, to sacrifice the dearest
_personal pleasure_ for the world-wide purpose; willing that he who was
her dearest treasure should be the nation's _first_.
Then followed months of prayer while the man was coming. Samuel was born,
no, farther back yet, was conceived in the atmosphere of prayer and
devotion to God. The prenatal influences for those months gave the sort of
man God wanted. And a nation, _the_ nation, the _world-plan,_ was saved!
This man became a living answer to prayer. The romantic story of the
little boy up in the Shiloh tabernacle quickly spread over the nation. His
very name--Samuel, God hears--sifted into people's ears the facts of a
God, and of the power of prayer. The very sight of the boy and of the man
clear to the end kept deepening the brain impression through eyeballs that
God answers prayer. And the seeds of that re-belief in God that Samuel's
leadership brought about were sown by the unusual story of his birth.
_The answer was delayed that more might be given and gotten_. And Hannah's
exultant song of praise reveals the fineness to which the texture of her
nature had been spun. And it tells too how grateful she was for a God who
in great patience and of strong deliberate purpose delayed the answer to
The Best Light for Studying a Thorn.
The third great picture in this group is that of Paul and his
needle-pointed thorn. Talks about the certainty of prayer being answered
are very apt to bring this question: "What about Paul's thorn?" Sometimes
asked by earnest hearts puzzled; _some_times with a look in the eye almost
exultant as though of gladness for that thorn because it seems to help out
a theory. These pictures are put into the gallery for our help. Let us
pull up our chairs in front of this one and see what points we may get to
help our hearts.
First a look at Paul himself. The best light on this thorn is through the
man. The man explains the thorn. We have a halo about Paul's head; and
rightly, too. What a splendid man of God he was! God's chosen one for a
peculiar ministry. One of the twelve could be used to open the door to the
great outside world, but God had to go aside from this circle and get a
man of different training for this wider sphere. Cradled and schooled in a
Jewish atmosphere, he never lost the Jew standpoint, yet the training of
his home surroundings in that outside world, the contact with Greek
culture, his natural mental cast fitted him peculiarly for his appointed
task to the great outside majority. His keen reasoning powers, his vivid
imagination, his steel-like will, his burning devotion, his unmovable
purpose, his tender attachment to his Lord,--what a man! Well might the
Master want to win such a man for service' sake. But Paul had some weak
traits. Let us say it very softly, remembering as we instinctively will,
that where we think of one in him there come crowding to memory's door
many more in one's self. A man's weak point is usually the extreme
opposite swing of the pendulum on his strong point. Paul had a tremendous
will. He was a giant, a Hercules in his will. Those tireless journeys with
their terrific experiences, all spell out _will_ large and black. But,
gently now, he went to extremes here. Was it due to his overtired nerves?
Likely enough. He was obstinate, _sometimes;_ stubborn; set in his way:
_sometimes_ head down, jaw locked, driving hard. Say it all _softly_, for
we are speaking of dear old saintly Paul; but, to help, _say_ it, for it
God had a hard time holding Paul to _His_ plans. Paul had some of his own.
We can all easily understand that. Take a side glance or two as he is
pushing eagerly, splendidly on. Turn to that sixteenth chapter of
Acts, and listen: "Having been forbidden of the Holy Spirit to speak
the word in (the province of) Asia," coupled with the fact of sickness
being allowed to overtake him in Galatia where the "forbidding" message
came. And again this, "they assayed to go into Bithynia; and the Spirit of
Jesus suffered them not." Tell me, is this the way the Spirit of God
leads? That I should go driving ahead until He must pull me up with a
sharp turn, and twist me around! It is the way He is obliged to do many
times, no doubt, with most of us. But His chosen way? His own way? Surely
not. Rather this, the keeping close, and quiet and listening for the next
step. Rather the "I go not up yet unto this feast" of Jesus. And then
in a few days going up, evidently when the clear intimation came. These
words, "assayed to go," "forbidden," "suffered not"--what flashlights they
let into this strong man's character.
But there is much stronger evidence yet. Paul had an ambition to preach to
the _Jerusalem Jews_. It burned in his bones from the early hours of his
new life. The substratum of "_Jerusalem_" seemed ever in his thoughts and
dreams. If _he_ could just get to those Jerusalem Jews! He knew them. He
had trained with them. He was a leader among the younger set. When they
burned against these Christians he burned just a bit hotter. They knew
him. They trusted him to drive the opposite wedge. If only _he_ could have
a chance down there he felt that the tide might be turned. But from that
critical hour on the Damascene road "_Gentiles--Gentiles_" had been
sounded in his ears. And he obeyed, of course he obeyed, with all his
ardent heart. _But, but_--those _Jerusalem Jews_! If he might go to
Jerusalem! Yet very early the Master had proscribed the Jerusalem service
for Paul. He made it a matter of a special vision, in the holy temple,
kindly explaining why. "They will not receive of _thee_ testimony
concerning Me." Would that not seem quite sufficient? Surely. Yet this
astonishing thing occurs:--Paul attempts to argue with the Master _why_ he
should be allowed to go. This is going to great lengths; a subordinate
arguing with his commanding general after the orders have been issued! The
Master closes the vision with a peremptory word of command, "_depart_. I
will send thee _far hence_ (from Jerusalem, where you long to be), to the
Gentiles." That is a picture of this man. It reveals the weak side in
this giant of strength and of love. And _this_ is the man God has to use
in His plan. He is without doubt the best man available. And in his
splendour he stands head and shoulders above his generation and many
generations. Yet (with much reverence) God has a hard time getting Paul to
work always along the line of _His_ plans.
That is the man. Now for the thorn. Something came into Paul's life that
was a constant irritation. He calls it a thorn. What a graphic word! A
sharp point prodding into his flesh, ever prodding, sticking, sticking in;
asleep, awake, stitching tent canvas, preaching, writing, that thing ever
cutting its point into his sensitive flesh. Ugh! It did not disturb him so
much at first, because _there was God_ to go to. He went to God and said,
"_Please_ take this away." But it stayed and stuck. A second time the
prayer; a bit more urgent; the thing sticks so. The time test is the
hardest test of all. Still no change. Then praying the third time with
what earnestness one can well imagine.
Now note three things: First, _There was an answer_. God answered _the
man_. Though He did not grant the petition, He answered the man. He did
not ignore him nor his request. Then God told Paul frankly that it was not
best to take the thorn away. It was in the lonely vigil of a sleepless
night, likely as not, that the wondrous Jesus-Spirit drew near to Paul.
Inaudibly to outer ear but very plainly to his inner ear, He spoke in
tones modulated into tender softness as of dearest friend talking with
dear friend. "Paul," the voice said, "I know about that thorn--and how it
hurts--it hurts Me, too. For _your_ sake, I would quickly, so quickly
remove it. But--Paul"--and the voice becomes still softer--"it is a bit
better for _others_' sake that it remain: the plan in My heart _through
you_ for thousands, yes, unnumbered thousands, Paul, can so best be worked
out." That was the first part of what He said. And Paul lies thinking with
a deep tinge of awe over his spirit. Then after a bit in yet quieter voice
He went on to say, "I will be so close to your side; you shall have such
revelations of My glory that the pain will be clear overlapped, Paul; the
glory shall outstrip the eating thorn point."
I can see old Paul one night in his own hired house in Rome. It is late,
after a busy day; the auditors have all gone. He is sitting on an old
bench, slowing down before seeking sleep. One arm is around Luke, dear
faithful Doctor Luke, and the other around young Timothy, not quite so
young now. And with eyes that glisten, and utterance tremulous with
emotion he is just saying:--"And dear old friends, do you know, I would
not have missed this thorn, for the wondrous glory"--and his heart gets
into his voice, there is a touch of the hoarseness of deep emotion, and a
quavering of tone, so he waits a moment--"the wondrous _glory-presence of
Jesus_ that came with it."
And so out of the experience came a double blessing. There was a much
fuller working of God's plan for His poor befooled world. And there was an
unspeakable nearness of intimacy with his Lord for Paul. _The man was
answered and the petition denied that the larger plan of service might be
Shaping a Prayer on the Anvil of the Knees.
The last of these pictures is like Raphael's Sistine Madonna in the
Dresden gallery; it is in a room by itself. One enters with a holy hush
over his spirit, and, with awe in his eyes, looks at _Jesus in
Gethsemane_. There is the Kidron brook, the gentle rise of ground, the
grove of gnarled knotty old olive trees. The moon above is at the full.
Its brightness makes these shadowed recesses the darker; blackly dark.
Here is a group of men lying on the ground apparently asleep. Over yonder
deeper in among the trees a smaller group reclines motionless. They, too,
sleep. And, look, farther in yet is that lone figure; all alone; nevermore
alone; save once--on the morrow.
There is a foreshadowing of this Gethsemane experience in the requested
interview of the Greeks just a few intense days before. In the vision
which the Greeks unconsciously brought the agony of the olive grove began.
The climax is among these moon-shadowed trees. How sympathetic those inky
black shadows! It takes bright light to make black shadows. Yet they were
not black enough. Intense men can get so absorbed in the shadows as to
forget the light.
This great Jesus! Son of God: God the Son. The Son of Man: God--a man! No
draughtsman's pencil ever drew the line between His divinity and humanity;
nor ever shall. For the union of divine and human is itself divine, and
therefore clear beyond human ken. Here His humanity stands out,
pathetically, luminously stands out. Let us speak of it very softly and
think with the touch of awe deepening for this is holiest ground. The
battle of the morrow is being fought out here. Calvary is in Gethsemane.
The victory of the hill is won in the grove.
It is sheer impossible for man with sin grained into his fibre through
centuries to understand the horror with which a sinless one thinks of
actual contact with sin. As Jesus enters the grove that night it comes in
upon His spirit with terrific intensity that He is actually coming into
contact--with a meaning quite beyond us--coming into contact with sin. In
some way all too deep for definition He is to be "made sin." The
language used to describe His emotions is so strong that no adequate
English words seem available for its full expression. An indescribable
horror, a chill of terror, a frenzy of fright seizes Him. The poisonous
miasma of sin seems to be filling His nostrils and to be stifling Him. And
yonder alone among the trees the agony is upon Him. The extreme grips Him.
May there not yet possibly be some other way rather than _this--this!_ A
bit of that prayer comes to us in tones strangely altered by deepest
emotion. "_If it be possible--let this cup pass_." There is still a
clinging to a possibility, some possibility other than that of this
nightmare vision. The writer of the Hebrews lets in light here. The strain
of spirit almost snaps the life-thread. And a parenthetical prayer for
strength goes up. And the angels come with sympathetic strengthening. With
what awe must they have ministered! Even after that some of the red life
slips out there under the trees. By and by a calmer mood asserts itself,
and out of the darkness a second petition comes. It tells of the tide's
turning, and the victory full and complete. _A changed, petition_ this!
"_Since this cup may not pass_--since only thus _can_ Thy great plan for a
world be wrought out--_Thy--will_"--slowly but very distinctly the words
_The changed prayer was wrought out upon His knees!_ With greatest
reverence, and a hush in our voices, let us say that there alone with the
Father came the clearer understanding of the Father's actual will under
"Into the woods my Master went
Clean forspent, forspent;
Into the woods my Master came
Forspent with love and shame.
But the olives they were not blind to Him,
The little gray leaves were kind to Him;
The thorn-tree had a mind to Him
When into the woods He came.
"Out of the woods my Master went
And He was well content;
Out of the woods my Master came
Content with death and shame.
When death and shame would woo Him last
From under the trees they drew Him last
'Twas on a tree they slew Him--last
When out of the woods He came."
True prayer is wrought out upon the knees alone with God. With deepest
reverence, and in awed tones, let it be said, that _that was true of
Jesus_ in the days of His humanity. How infinitely more of us!
Shall we not plan to meet God alone, habitually, with the door shut, and
the Book open, and the will pliant so we may be trained for this holy
partnership of prayer. Then will come the clearer vision, the broader
purpose, the truer wisdom, the real unselfishness, the simplicity of
claiming and expecting, the delights of fellowship in service with Him;
then too will come great victories for God in His world. Although we
shall not begin to know by direct knowledge a tithe of the story until the
night be gone and the dawning break and the ink-black shadows that now
stain the earth shall be chased away by the brightness of His presence.