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.

Welcome to the World, 19 Years Later

Dean, Brent, and me at Brent’s high school graduation, June 1, 2018


Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father . . . – James 1:17 NIV


Nineteen years ago today, our first grandchild was born. And a new chapter opened up in our lives, a chapter filled with joy and hope and life and wonder.

Today I sit back and remember. . . .


July 7, 1999

The sky glowed golden at sunset the day before you were born. A little after three in the morning, your Aunt Jaime announced from the bedroom doorway, “The baby’s on its way! The baby’s on its way!” When I called the hospital four hours later, your mommy told me you had arrived.

Brent Michael Huey. Our first grandchild. Seven pounds, six ounces of pure joy. I’d forgotten. Life has a way of throwing enough curve balls that we forget what it’s really all about. I’d built a wall around my heart to shut out the disappointments, grief, frustrations – and all the pain living in this world brings.

But that wall also shut out the joy and the love. Oh, I smiled and said I was doing good, even great, when people asked me how I was. But in reality, deep down inside, I felt little emotion.

When I knew you were here, Brent, that old wall just crumbled. Just your name is enough to bring tears of joy. But, oh, when I saw you! When I held you for the first time, you never even woke up for the whole hour and a half. As you slept soundly, I gently rocked you in my lap, one hand supporting your floppy little neck and the other beneath the blanketed bundle of you.

As I watched all those little baby faces you made, I dreamed of sitting in the rocker with you on my lap and reading to you; of walking with your little hand in mine and showing you all the wonders of God’s creation – a rainbow, a sunset, a snowflake; of feeling your little arms around my neck and inhaling your sweet baby smell. The Big Dipper isn’t big enough to contain the love I feel when I look at you!

Maybe that’s why God painted the sky golden the evening before you entered my world – to remind me where life’s treasures really are – and they aren’t in how well I write, how much money I have in the bank, how many awards I’ve collected, how clean my house is, or how little I weigh.

Life, my little grandson, is loving and giving and caring and sharing – and stopping by the roadside to enjoy a golden sunset.

Welcome to the world, Baby Huey. . . .


July 7, 2018

Today, Brent, we celebrate your birthday and tomorrow your high school graduation.

Oh, the young man you’ve become!

Over the years, Grandpa and I have been blessed to sit at countless baseball games, watch in pride and wonder as, in your senior year, you played varsity football. You’d decided to go out for football only a few months before the season started, yet you worked hard – and was elected one of the team’s captains. And then when the season was over, you signed a letter of intent to play college football.

We are so proud of you.

We’ve prayed you through illness and injury, fevers and broken bones, and when life’s path took directions you hadn’t planned or wanted.

Yet look at you. You’re smart, kind, compassionate, generous, caring, giving, hard working . . . and, no, I’m not partial at all.

Never stop dreaming, Brent-o. Never stop going after those dreams. For God has placed them in your heart. And He will give you the strength and endurance, patience and persistence, to achieve them.

Today the road of life stretches before you. Step with confidence and faith. Believe in the person God is making you to be.

Grandpa and I will be cheering you on, praying for you, loving you as always.

Welcome to the world, Brent Michael Huey. Oh, the places you’ll go!


Thank you, God, for this grandson – bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh – who reawakened love and joy in my life-beaten heart when he was born and has continued to do so to this day. Bless him and guide him as he follows the path You have laid out for him. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 139:13-18.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.