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goals

What Canoes Teach Us About Hope

Teen Devotion and Youth Group Lesson on Hope

When you’ve got a great talent or ability people will often ask you when you realized you were able to do your talent. I discovered my “talent”, or lack there of at the age of ten. I was at a summer camp with some friends and during a free time at the camp, a friend and I decided to take a canoe out on the lake. It was fun, we paddled and talked and had a great time. When we were about in the middle of the lake, we heard the camp’s bell. The bell was telling us that our free time was over and we needed to go to the next scheduled activity. 

My friend and I began trying to turn our canoe around. We realized in a few minutes that we weren’t able to turn the canoe around. We tried and tried and tried, but no matter how hard we tried we weren’t able to turn our canoe around. And in that moment, I realized how bad I was at steering a canoe.

In canoeing and in life there’s often times where we need to turn it around or we need to course correct. Sometimes we might see something coming up ahead and realize that we need to change our course. Or perhaps, we see a dream, goal or vision that God has for our lives but we don’t know how to get there.

How Do We Get There?

So how do we do it? How do we get from where we are now to where we want to be? How do we stay motivated and keep moving toward our goal even when our goal seems too far away and we begin to wonder if we can ever get there?

Hope is what keeps us focused and moving toward our God given dreams and goals. Hope is what motivates us when things get tough and we want to give up. In the Bible, the disciples faced a situation where they wanted to give up hope.

but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. – Luke 24:21 (NIV)

In this passage, the disciples were sharing their feelings and said they had hoped. They had given up on hope since Jesus had died. They were feeling really discouraged and didn’t know what to do next.

How do you turn a bad situation around?

One of the most important things to do when you’re in a tough situation is to not give up on hope. Hope is very important to accomplishing your dreams and goals, so let’s look at a few reasons why.

Hope = Direction.

If you lose your hope, you lose all direction in life. If you were in a canoe and you dropped your paddle, you’d be in trouble. Without the paddle, you’d have nothing to steer you. Hope is the same for us in life. Without hope, we have nothing steering and driving us toward our goals and dreams in life. If we give up our hope, we give up our direction.

Hope = Anchor.

When you’re boating an anchor is important. Without it, you could run aground or drift off course. An anchor helps keep you in place. In life, it’s no different. We need something secure and something to help hold us steady. A secure anchor for our lives is Jesus.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain – Hebrews 6:19 (NIV)

Many times in life our emotions, feelings and circumstances can try to drift us off course. We have to realize that if we lose hope, we lose our anchor.

Guard Your Hope.

When you’re canoeing it can make sense to take a dry bag with you. A dry bag is a safe place to put keys, books, maybe even food that you don’t want to get wet. Once this bag is sealed, it keeps important items from getting wet. Our hope is important. It’s something that needs to be guarded and kept safe. If we’re going to accomplish the dreams that God has put in our lives, we need to be sure to guard our hope.

What you put your hope IN matters.

If you were to try to hope in a canoe and paddle on carpet, you wouldn’t get very far. It would be hard work and really tough. However, if you were to put that same canoe into water and begin to paddle, it would be a lot easier. Why? What you put your canoe in matters. In life, it’s no different. What you put your hope in matters. You can put your hope in your friends, or in money, or lots of other things. Just be sure that what you put your hope in is solid. That it’s something that can see you through. In life, putting your hope in Jesus is a good choice. Jesus will never leave you or let you down. What you put your hope in matters.

Hope can be resurrected.

Your situation isn’t too far gone for God. Your hope can be resurrected.

In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? – Luke 24:5

These women went back to the tomb where Jesus had been buried. They were looking back at what had been. The angel asked them why were you looking for the living among the dead. The angel was telling them that even though their hope (Jesus) was once dead, it had now been resurrected. They didn’t have to keep looking for it in the place of death. In the same way, our hope can be resurrected, if we put it in Jesus.

Hope is important as it is the motivation for you to reach your God given dreams. Always remember that your situation isn’t too hopeless for a resurrection. Your dream isn’t too far off for Jesus to help bring it to pass in your life. If you choose to keep hope alive, your situation is never too hopeless. If you trust in God and lean on Him as the source of your hope, you’ll never be disappointed and never be without true hope.

If you’re a youth leader and would like discussion questions or a lesson outline and powerpoint, you can download them below.

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