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.

The Ending Is Sure

 

“These words are trustworthy and true.” – Revelation 22:6 NIV

My friend George Caylor and his wife, JoAnne, once met the late actor Charlton Heston when he visited Lynchburg, Va., where they live. Now George is not one to pass up an opportunity to meet someone like Heston, whose career included lead roles in such movies as The Ten Commandments, El Cid, and Ben Hur, for which he won an Academy Award in 1959.

Heston regaled them with the story of filming the famous chariot race in Ben Hur. Refusing to use a double for the scene, the actor had practiced for months. He was trying desperately to win the race when Director William Wyler drew him aside.

“Chuck,” he said, “the plot has been written! You win! Just stay on the chariot!”

What a reminder for believers!

We, too, often feel as though we’re running a desperate race—and losing.

Jostled about, thrown from one side to the other, bouncing every which way, we try to stay on our feet and maintain control. We take our eyes off the finish line to see what the enemy is up to.

And we do have an enemy—an unseen adversary who does whatever he can to trip us up, sidetrack us, get us to doubt our faith. If we abandon that faith, he’s won.

Have no doubt: This enemy is real, and he means business.

“For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood,” Paul wrote the Ephesian believers, “but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world” (Ephesians 6:12 LB).

Indeed, our adversary prowls around like an insatiable lion, looking for his next meal (1 Peter 5:8). One of his favorite strategies is to get you to take your eyes off the finish line and look in the rearview mirror—at your past. Your sin. Your guilt. Your shame. “How could God ever forgive me for what I’ve done?” you wonder.

Don’t fall for that trick. Your sin, guilt, and shame have been washed away forever by the blood of Jesus. As the saying goes, “When Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.”

The race may be fierce, but the outcome is certain: You win; the devil loses (Revelation 20:10). If you’re a believer in Jesus (see 1 John 5:1112), your victory was sealed over 2,000 years ago on a hill outside Jerusalem by none other than God’s own Son.

So if you’re being tossed about in this race called life and it seems as though you’re losing, remember: The plot has already been written! The ending is sure! You win!

All you have to do is stay on the chariot.

When doubt steps up in my life chariot and I try to take over the reins, remind me, Lord, that You are in control. My victory is certain, for You won it for me on Calvary. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on the finish line. Amen.

Read and reflect: Revelation 19­­–22

 From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God  ©2017