‘Rev’ is back on TV and in our house we’re busy playing catch up. My husband’s not seen it before, so hot on the heels of ‘Gavin & Stacey’ we’re going through the box set of ‘Rev’ before we watch series 3.
When ‘Rev’ first appeared in 2010, I was in my wilderness years, a ‘single mum divorced from a Rev.’ I watched it with amusement noticing my experiences as minister’s wife and laughing hysterically when Rev’s wife referred to the vicar’s wives meeting saying, “I think I’ll just cut my head off with boredom now!” I was out of my chair when ‘Rev’ won a BAFTA and their acceptance speech began, “Thank you to the vicars!”
Rev’s main character is Adam, whose joys and struggles as vicar are played out through the series. I know Rev has come in for criticism from some church people and I have to admit my frustration at this.I love ‘Rev’ because Adam is often heard praying honestly. He takes seriously the call to love and serve his community and is open about his frustration with ‘the system.’ His heart for a God who loves us in the middle of our confusion always seems to shine through.
Last night we reached the episode where Adam is in crisis, questioning the point of his vocation. During this time, he demonstrates some behaviour that we Christians love to inaccurately label as ‘sin of the worst kind’. Watching it in 2010, I remember walking past people smoking that morning and breathing in deeply wondering if nicotine might make me feel better. There were some nights out where I had drunk too much because I just didn’t care anymore about what happened to me and I had tried so many times to lose myself in trashy TV to numb the pain. Yes I could see a lot of my pain and confusion in Adam’s eyes.
At one point, Adam’s wife says,
“He believes in God, he’s just not sure that God believes in him.”
And that was when the tears of 2010’s shame and disappointment started going down my face.
Later in the episode, Adam is called to give a dying woman the last rites. I cried even more as he debated whether he could be “vicar” to her. In the stairwell of the block of flats he quietly recites a verse used at his ordination service :
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!’ Isaiah 6v8
In 2010, I cried because I had no answers to the huge sense of injustice that riddled my life and made me want to shout, scream and throw things round the room. Yesterday, my eyes welled up as I recognised I have now accepted that often there aren’t answers to the questions that rage to our heart’s surface when tragedy strikes or our confidence is dented once again.
Recently, I asked a new friend who is older and wiser than me how her experience of being an ex vicar’s wife has affected her faith. Her reply will stay with me for a long time.
“I have learnt that I know nothing now for sure except that I am loved by God.
I don’t know who is going to heaven or if there is a hell. I don’t know why we suffer.
I don’t know for sure who wrote what bit of the Bible when, why and to who.
But I do know this: I am really loved by God.”
I agree. Despite all my questions, then and now, just like Adam and my friend, I just can’t not believe that I am loved by God. And when He calls, I pray you and I will have a deep reassurance of His love to underpin us and the courage in our guts to say,
“Yes Lord, with all my questions, here I am, …send me.”