“Where was Moses when the lights went out?” That’s one of the few sayings I remember from my grandmother. She lived with us when I was a child and she’d say that when someone came in too late to help with something. I always thought it a strange expression since Moses didn’t do miracles on demand, but I still remember it—kind of a miracle in its own right. The expression came back to me when hearing about the MV Ever Given in the Suez Canal. This massive cargo ship, buffeted by high winds, has choked the canal that links the Red Sea to the Mediterranean for days. This shortcut means ships don’t have to round Africa to get to European and American ports. While the problems of this one ship play out, over 150 others are waiting to pass through and goods could be delayed for weeks around the world. I’m glad we have toilet paper.
Now Moses was known for have a role in the dividing of the Red Sea. Of course, the name of the body of water is debated. The Good Book actually says “Reed Sea” and nobody’s really sure where that is. Besides, the miracle isn’t really credited to Moses. God did the deed through, well, a strong wind. If the waters could be divided perhaps present-day crews could figure out how to free the ship. Photos of a bulldozer that looks like a Tonka next to the colossal freighter give an idea of the scale of the problem. People building things so large that they can’t control them. And the forces of nature seem happy to remind us that we’re not in control, right, Moses?
And everything, we assume, will go smoothly if left to its own devices. How often do we really worry about the Suez Canal? Or large ships, for that matter? Theses things should go just as clockwork, we suppose. Until our order from Amazon is inexplicably delayed. The pandemic, Post Office troubles, and unexpected bad weather have caused major shipping delays around here over the past several months, and now we have no Moses when we need him. According to Exodus, God lives right next door on the Sinai peninsula. That’s where Moses first met him. If we had a true prophet these days (let the reader apply wisdom here) there would be no concerns for something as simple as a wedged ship. But we can’t even find Moses when the lights go out.