“You may not have a car at all
But remember, brother and sisters
You can still stand tall
Just be thankful for what you got
Though you may not drive,
A great big Cadillac
Diamond in the back, sunroof top
Diggin’ in the scene with a gangsta’ lean”
Most of us remember the lyrics to “Be Thankful for What You Got,” a song released in 1974 by singer William DeVaughn.
These lyrics are perfect for Thanksgiving, but I want to talk about the car DeVaughn was singing about- The Cadillac Eldorado – the car with “gangsta white walls” and a “TV antenna in the back.”
From 1953 to 2002 the El Dorado represented luxury, style and power. It had an elegant appearance, a large, powerful engine and a plush ride.
The El Dorado was stately enough for pastors, politicians and professionals, but cool enough for pimps, players and hustlers.
However, from 1982 to 1988 Cadillac also built another car called the Cimarron.
The Cimarron, known as Cadillac’s first small car, was made at a time when U.S. car companies began to compete with small, fuel-efficient imports from Japan and Germany.
The Cimarron was basically just a dressed up version of the Cavalier, Chevy’s economy car. It was made for consumers who wanted a new Cadillac, but could not afford an El Dorado, Seville, Sedan De Ville or Coupe De Ville.
As cute as it was, the Cimarron did not live up to the Cadillac name. It was notorious for its bad engine, poor exhaust system and overall unreliability.
Thanksgiving is a time when we show gratitude to God. So, the question is: What kind of thanks will you show God? El Dorado thanks or Cimarron thanks?
Cimarron thanks, as you might imagine, is insignificant and unreliable. In other words, we only thank God when things are going well and we have plenty of material passions. Or worse, we don’t bother to thank God for any success we have, giving the credit only to ourselves or other human beings.
El Dorado thanks is generous, sincere and consistent. We express gratitude to God during good times and bad times. Although God has not removed us from the heat of the fire, we still thank him for not letting us be consumed by it.
Times are hard, and more people are losing their jobs, their homes and their marriages due to economic hardship. Hard times like these separate the strong believers who have a real, faithful relationship with Christ from those who are “just playin’ church.”
Now, more than ever, God needs to receive El Dorado thanks, especially if your family has been spared from hardship.
Still, if you’re eating bologna sandwiches and boiled potatoes for Thanksgiving, thank God for your warm meal. Families throughout this community are going to bed hungry.
If you drive a rusty old car with no hubcaps and a sheet of plastic where a shattered window used to be, thank God for your transportation! Someone had their car repossessed today or had to walk in the cold.
If a bill collector keeps harassing you on the phone, thank God for your phone service.
If your teenager is driving you crazy, pray for him/her, be patient and thank God that they are at least home tonight. Another parent somewhere is searching for their child, or identifying them in the morgue.
The Word of God reminds us that although everything in this world is God’s there are gifts we can still give him, including our obedience, love, praise and thanks. When we consistently give God all these gifts and properly manage the resources we already have, we will be rewarded.
After all, would you want to continue giving things to someone who hasn’t expressed appreciation for what you have already given them?
Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”
First Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
We will find ourselves more content, happier and joyful when we take DeVaughn’s advice and choose to be thankful for what we got.
P.S. William DeVaughn, who is now a minister, is releasing records again. Check out his new album, “Time Will Stand,” by visiting his Web site, www.williamdevahgnrecords.com.