“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” —Jesus, as quoted in John 10:10 (NIV)
“Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” —Jim Elliott
When I read this quote by the late missionary Jim Elliott, it made me think: What does it mean to “live to the hilt”?
The hilt, the handle of a sword, is the only part visible when the blade is plunged in all the way. “To the hilt,” then, means giving something your all—one hundred percent, no reserve.
To me, living to the hilt means three things.
First, living to the hilt means exploring every God-given dream and pursuing the vision.
When I was in high school, I dreamed of becoming a writer. My life’s path led to teaching, which still remains a passion of mine, but the dream of writing never died. Twenty-three years after I graduated from college, I published my first pieces—a couple of devotionals in The Upper Room and a personal experience story in Guideposts. Recently I published my third novel.
The road hasn’t been easy. The learning curve can be steep, and it’s ongoing. When you reach one level, you find there’s another to master.
But when God gives you a dream, you must work to make it a reality. What you are is God’s gift to you. What you make of yourself is your gift to God. Remember the parable of the talents? Only the two who used what they were given received the commendation of “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
So discover, develop, and dispense your God-given gifts. Pursue the vision.
Second, living life to the hilt means doing—giving—your best, every moment, every breath. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart” (Colossians 3:23).
ALL your might. ALL your heart. Nothing held back.
And don’t let fear hold you back. Fear doesn’t come from God. What Paul wrote to the young pastor Timothy is still true today: “God has not given you a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). He has filled you with His Holy Spirit. Remember, God is for you—He’s your biggest cheerleader. And if God is for you, then who or what can succeed against you? (Romans 8:31)
So, go on, give it your best shot. Give it your ALL.
Third, living to the hilt means looking forward, not back.
Too often, we play the “if only” game, weaving a web of regret—and getting tangled in it. Don’t waste time and expend energy on what could have been. Use the past to build the future. Learn from your mistakes and move on.
So what if things didn’t turn out the way you planned—the way you wanted? God, ultimately, is in control. He knows what He’s doing. Forget what’s behind and reach forward to what’s ahead. Press on toward your God-given goal (Philippians 3:13–14).
Jesus came to give us life in all its fullness. That means living full, living abundantly, living to the hilt.
Remember the words of Abraham Lincoln: “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
Thank You, God, for giving me a dream and showing me the way to make it come true. Amen.
Extra tea: Read and meditate on Matthew 25:14–30