Burma Shave and God
July 14, 2017
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Burma Shave signs appeared along many of the rural highways in the United States from 1925 to 1963. The signs, five or six placed in a sequence along the road, delivered a short pithy slogan and concluded with BURMA SHAVE printed on the last sign. At one point there were about 7,000 of the series of signs scattered around the U.S.
Here are a couple of the Burma Shave slogans from the year of my birth, 1950. “Violets are blue… roses are pink… on graves… of those… who drive and drink… Burma Shave.” “The whale… put Jonah… down the hatch… but coughed him up… because he scratched… Burma Shave.”
The signs drew the travelers’ attention because it was hard to resist looking at each sign as you drove past; people wanted to catch the entire slogan. The signs helped sell a lot of shaving cream!
In a way God uses the Burma Shave advertising technique to get His messages across to us. As we journey through each day we encounter many different situations, and it’s amazing how often we can get the same message from two, three, or more such incidents. We may even silently reflect, or comment to someone, “I think God’s trying to tell me something.”
A driver would have to be dangerously inattentive to the surroundings to have missed reading the Burma Shave signs, and a passenger would probably have to be asleep to miss reading the slogans. When it comes to signs from God it’s a lot easier to miss the message. What makes each day interesting is to be intentional about what God might be trying to say to us through what we read, the conversations we have, and the experiences we encounter.
I hope it’s not sacrilegious to put a Bible verse in the form of a Burma Shave sequence. The verse is a short prayer the old man Eli told the young man Samuel to pray to God, recorded for us in 1 Samuel 3:9. It’s a good prayer for us to pray too, so we’re more open to hearing from God. “Speak,… Lord,… for… your servant… is listening.”