Brother Stewart and the unpardonable sin

I was delivering newspapers on my bike one afternoon while throwing a hissy fit at God. I was twelve years old, and my first doubt had occurred a year earlier. A hundred more had joined it, but my focus at the moment was God’s inexplicable failure—inexplicable if he existed—to keep his Biblical promises; for example, “whatsoever you shall ask in my name, that will I do.” It was the first time I used profanity during a prayer, and I was laying it on thick as I railed at God for his interminable silence in the face of my desperate entreaties for a reason to believe. I still remember the very spot upon which I felt the horrific fear that I had probably, not more than a minute past, committed the unpardonable sina sin that, oddly enough, the Bible mentions but doesn’t define. I was so burdened with fear for the next three years that I was sometimes on the verge of panic, which was why I finally drove out to talk with Brother Stewart. When he seemed sleepy and distracted and made no attempt to draw me out, I let pass my one shame-laden attempt to share my angst. I never blamed him for this because he was too good a man to blame for anything.