Years ago when my older children were young in Mexico, I was pretty much the only person who spoke to them in English. Since English was their second language, their English word order followed the Spanish word order patterns. One thing I often heard them say was, “I no can.” (Yo no puedo in Spanish.)
Many times when God calls us to do something for Him, our response is “I no can.” That’s basically what Moses said after God told him it didn’t matter who Moses was, what mattered was that God was going to be with him. “And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” (Exodus 4:10)
Moses was saying that he was not a polished speaker. Guess he never had to take speech class at the palace. Guess he did not get much oratory practice taking care of sheep every day. Maybe his wife never let him get a word in edgewise! Anyway, like most people Moses did not feel comfortable speaking in front of a crowd.
It’s also interesting that he tells God he has never been eloquent–not in the past and not since God started speaking to him! God had not been speaking to Moses for a long period of time, but Moses was impatient. It’s almost as if Moses is saying, “Hey, you just called me to ministry, but I don’t see any amazing transformation in my life since you spoke to me. I’m still slow of speech!” Maybe Moses expected to be instantly transformed into a gifted silver-tongued orator.
I love God’s reply: “Who hath made man’s mouth?…have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and TEACH thee what thou shalt say.” (Exodus 4:11,12) When God calls us to do something and we feel like “I no can,” we need to remember God made us, understands us, will go with us and TEACH us what we need to do!
I was 18 years old the first time I ever taught a Bible class to a group of four-year-olds. I thought I was well prepared, but the time passed so quickly. When I was done with everything I had prepared, I looked at the clock and only 20 minutes had gone by. The class was supposed to last 90 minutes! Yikes! Needless to say, I lost control of the class! A group of four-year-olds running around the classroom out of control was very daunting to an 18 year old! It’s very daunting at any age!
I felt like such a failure! It was definitely an “I no can” feeling. I thank God for the supervisor who kindly took over my classroom that day. Instead of “firing” me, she encouraged me, suggested changes, and gave me another opportunity the next week. If she had not done that, I might have given up on teaching and never taught again! The next week I went to my class much better prepared and everything went much more smoothly. God was TEACHING me how to teach!
Perhaps God has called you to a ministry for which you feel “I no can.” Perhaps you have tried to serve and not seen the results you dreamed and longed for. Perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed with parenting challenges or other family difficulties. Remember God made you and will be with you and will TEACH you what you need to know and do to have an effective ministry.
It’s true “I no can,” in my own strength, but when God goes with me and teaches me, “I yes can” because “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)