From the PeopleMover to the Rocket Rods: Serving Outside Your SHAPE
The PeopleMover opened at Disneyland July 2, 1967, as part of the “New Tomorrowland”; a leisurely, elevated 16-minute ride through Tomorrowland. Unfortunately, the attraction closed permanently August 21, 1995, and today remains one of the most-missed attractions (the Skyway is also up there—so to speak). It was replaced less than 3 years later by the Rocket Rods.
The new attraction covered the same track in 3 minutes, so obviously it was intended to be more of a thrill ride than a sightseeing ride. Even more unfortunately, though, the Rocket Rods used the PeopleMover track basically unmodified. That means it sped up on the straightaway portions and slowed down on the turns, since the turns were not banked.
In writing about the Rocket Rods, Werner Weiss (curator of Yesterland.com) says of the Rocket Rod’s issues:
The constant speeding up and slowing down took its toll on the vehicles and infrastructure. Almost immediately, the ride became better known for breakdowns and limited operating hours than for entertainment and thrills. In fact, the ride was closed most of its first summer.
The Rocket Rods closed permanently in September of 2000 (less than 2-1/2 years after opening), and the track sits vacant to this day.
The Rocket Rods weren’t necessarily a bad ride, but they suffer from one serious flaw: they attempted to use a ride track for something other than the purpose for which it was designed.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
Sometimes we do the very same thing. In The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren talks about us being “SHAPEd for serving God.” As Rick describes it, SHAPE is an acronym that stands for
- Spiritual Gifts
Those five things make you, and God uniquely shapes you, different from anybody else in the world, for a purpose. And that purpose is to serve Him. …God made you unique and your uniqueness is not for your benefit. …Your purpose in life is to be what God made you to be. And He gave you gifts and talents and abilities and background and experiences and all these things for the benefit of other people, to be used by serving others.
There are two lessons here.
(1) We all have a unique way of serving God. Trying to fit into someone else’s mold of how you should serve doesn’t work very well. Sure, there are variations, but the closer you are to serving in a way that fits your SHAPE, the more effective you’ll be.
We’re talking in the degree of Superspeed Tunnel vs. Tron Lightcycles (Game Grid) for the PeopleMover, not PeopleMover vs. Rocket Rods degree. one made use of the track layout that it was designed for, the other worked against it. Don’t work against your SHAPE. Sure, there may be times when you have to do something you don’t like to do or aren’t “gifted” to do because it just needs to get done, but spend as much time as you can doing what you were designed to do.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to hisfaith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:6-8)
(2) Your SHAPE is for the benefit of others, not yourself. God designed me to do certain things well, to be passionate about certain topics, with a specific set of experiences, etc. so that I can use those to serve others. Keeping it to myself is both selfish and sinful.
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. (I Peter 4:10)
Next time you see the empty PeopleMover track, remember what was there, and the disaster that happened when they tried to replace it with something that the track wasn’t designed to accommodate. Then ask yourself if you’re serving God in a way that’s consistent with how you were designed, and serving in a way that’s for the benefit of others, not yourself.