I have never been one to speak publicly, but God has very recently given me the desire to preach.  Most of my life, I have been painfully shy and it has been a constant struggle for me. We all know of those people that are just incredibly quiet. These are often the people that try to disappear when they are in a group of people. A lot of times they want to be overlooked, because they don’t want any attention drawn to them. I used to be one of those people. Of course, I’ve always had thoughts, I’ve just never felt I’ve been given a safe space to share those thoughts.

When I accepted Jesus into my life, things really started to change for me. Slowly but surely, I have been gaining the confidence to share what God has laid on my heart. It was so powerful for me to have the opportunity to preach for the very first time. Yes, I was extremely nervous before stepping up to the pulpit, but I remember taking a moment to just pray to God, “Please use me despite how I’m feeling right now. Allow this congregation to hear the words You’ve given me today. Fill me with your peace in this very moment.”

I then stepped up to the pulpit and instantaneously, I felt a wave of peace rush over me and a confidence that was undoubtedly given to me by the Lord. For the first time, I felt like I had the safest place to share the thoughts the Lord had given me. Prior to preaching, I spent a lot of time writing my sermon, and I spent a lot of time reading scripture. One scripture would lead me to another and then to another. It honestly felt as if I was creating a puzzle that God was simply helping me put together.

Writing has never been a problem for me. I can overthink and perhaps rewrite the same sentence over and over again until I believe it to be perfectly written. Sharing written down thoughts has always felt safer for me, because it’s so easy to perfect it before delivering it. You don’t necessarily have that same freedom when preaching. God can speak to you in a moment, and perhaps He calls you to change the way you thought you were originally going to share something. God did just that my first Sunday preaching. I thought I had so perfectly put together a sermon, but in a moment you just have to trust the Lord to speak through you. I am so thankful to have a church that is so incredibly supportive of me and believes that the Lord is capable of speaking through me. I could not have asked for a safer place to preach for the very first time surrounded by people that love and believe in me. I look forward to allowing the Lord to continue to use me and speak through me for the rest of my life.

Amanda Owen is the youth intern at North Broad Baptist Church in Rome, Georgia.