To the Hilt (Graduation Thoughts)

Image by Alexander Lesnitsky from Pixabay

“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. I’ve now published three novels and four books of devotional readings, and have another novel in the works.

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.

Read and reflect on Matthew 25:14–30

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Thanksgiving Thoughts

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 239747856_10223888897283172_1264781968008397674_n.jpg
Sunset over Thunder Bay River/Lake Wynah, Alpena, Michigan, August 18, 2021

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. – Psalm 100:5 (NIV)

God has given me many gifts. In this season of Thanksgiving, I’m going to dwell on three of them: the past, the present, and the future.

I’m thankful for my past, especially that I grew up in a home where I witnessed my mother talking to God all day long. “Don’t You let it rain,” she’d say when she hung the laundry on the line. I’m sure that’s why I still live with an awareness of God’s abiding presence moment by moment.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:7–10 NIV).

Which brings me to the second gift for which I’m thankful: the present. For the freezer and panty shelves stocked with the vegetables we harvested from our garden. For the firewood stacked outside on the patio. For health and energy. For Friday night date nights with my husband. For our beautiful, fun grandchildren, who are growing up way too fast. For my husband’s part-time job that helps to make ends meet in our senior years. For opportunities to work out of my home doing what I love best. For the sunsets and sunrises and birds and trees and butterflies and all God created for our enjoyment and use. God’s abundant provision blows me away.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God . . . And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches . . .” (Philippians 4:6, 19 NIV).

Glory . . . that brings me to the third thing for which I’m thankful: the future. 

There’s quite a bit of interest these days in end times. I’m not too worried about it. I don’t put a whole lot of stock in man’s predictions about end times. My Bible tells me only God knows when this will be. So why get all stressed about it? 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

“The one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above” (Philippians 3:13–14 TEV).

Past, present, future—my times are in His hand (Psalm 31:15).

Thank you, Lord, for Your abiding presence, abundant provision and awesome plan. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 100, Joel 2:23–24, and Habakkuk 3:17–18.