Delivered From The Pit
Gulliver’s: A New York City Night Club 1974
With a drink in my hand, a girl at my side, and listening to one of New York’s top bands in a jammed night club—who would have thought such a night would end in tears rather than cheers?
As I sat high spirited at the lounge table, in spite of a full length leg cast I had on due to a football injury— suddenly I heard my name paged over the loud speaker to go to the entrance. A girl I had invited as a last minute date for my football roommate was found to be a minor and wasn’t being allowed admission. The sharp-eyed bouncer questioned her age on the false ID she borrowed from her girlfriend for the night. He challenged her to sign her full name on a piece of paper and then compared it to the ID. She guessed wrong her girlfriends middle initial, then the boot followed: “You’re not coming in here tonight honey”!
Witnessing the scene, my football buddies and I huddled together trying to come up with a game plan to get her in. The scrupulous guard wouldn’t budge no matter how we nagged, even refusing a cash bribe. I was determined to enjoy a great evening of dancing to the 8 piece soul-rock band in this NYC hot spot club, and in my selfishness I was insisting on sending her back home to Bridgeport, Connecticut (a thirty mile ride). Ultimately their sympathy for her outweighed my choice to want to stay, so we left and skipped over to another club with no bouncer questions to our underage youngster.
My disappointment for the decision that evening turned into gratitude the next morning.
The NY Times read: Arson Kills.. “the young people were dancing to the soul-rock music when the band leader stopped the music to announce that a small fire had begun in an adjoining part of the building. Within minutes the sunken dance floor, called THE PIT, was a turmoil of black smoke and screaming, terror stricken people. The narrow stairway to the exit was suddenly packed with people, clawing at one another for air”.
Gulliver’s that night became the second worst night club fire in history, exceeded only by Boston’s Coconut Grove fire which took almost 500 lives in 12 minutes. News broke from coast to coast on every network and radio station informing the world that 24 young people died, and 32 were injured in a flash fire that engulfed the night club on the outskirts of New York City.
I pondered the fortunate circumstances that forced me to depart from the death trap. As I considered my thigh-to-ankle cast and the fifteen stairs to the exit, I fell prostrate in tears of appreciation, thanking God for preventing me from perishing in THE PIT. The girl’s wrong middle initial proved to be my extension on life! The previous night’s attitude of “eat, drink and be merry” turned to sobering thoughts of death and its consequences. Eternity had never come before me with such force. Heaven or hell, which would my destiny have been? Getting right with God became foremost in my mind. Bible searching, prayer and religious inquiries were intensified. The awareness of my sins became heavier on my conscience, and calling myself a Christian seemed hypocritical. All pretensions crumbled; religion, goodwill to man, good-works etc.. It had to be Christ and Christ alone as my claim to expect to ever be in heaven— I learned this from the Bible.
Seven months after the fiery holocaust, I embraced the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior by the Holy Spirit’s revelation to me from the scripture verse;
“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with His stripes we are healed” Isaiah 53:5.
It was a month later that I fully grasped where I would have been if I had died at Gulliver’s. At the tail end of an afternoon nap, I dreamed about the club fire. The dream put me back on the dance floor at the time the announcement of fire was made. The lights went out, screaming young people fought to escape as visions of hands waving and feet kicking to clear the way to the exit. It was all so vivid to me. My leg cast was too burdensome to compete with the fast rushing crowd. I fell further and further behind as the smoke filled THE PIT. Toxic smoke filled my lungs and I slumped unconsciously to the dance floor, which became my deathbed.
Instead of waking up, the dream continued and I found myself in hell!
The like-real sensations of hell: Body Shaking, Lips Quivering, and tears filling my eyes; it shocked me out of my dream, hoping that was all it was. Immediately I fell to my knees and thanked God, this time for saving me from the eternal flames I would have justly deserved if I had died that night. What’s in store for you when the vain mirage of life’s fleeting pleasures gives way to the realities of a non-material eternity? When the deceiving by Satan, the god of this world will close and your soul be shifted naked into the habitation of the Sovereign Master of the universe?
The Holy Word of God warns that where God dwells He will not allow it to be tainted by anything that defiles. Who then can be expected among mankind to be there, you may ask? Truly there are none worthy! As the Bible reads:
“Our sins have separated us from God” Isa. 59:2.
Nevertheless there is hope:
“there is forgiveness with Thee O Lord” Psalms 130:4
Your sins separate you from God and will bar you from heaven. They must now be put away by faith in the cross-work of Christ, who died and shed His own precious blood that can wash away your sins. If you trust the Lord Jesus Christ and the work He accomplished to save sinners like you, you’ll then have the assurance from His Word:
“that where I am, there you may be also” John 14:3.
If you believe not, Jesus said;
“where I go, you cannot come” John 8:21.
It was a great mercy of God to have been delivered from THE PIT in that discotheque, but far greater was His love in sending His only begotten Son to take the punishment for my sins and saving my soul from the pit of hell.
“You have in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for You have cast all my sins behind your back” Isaiah 38:17.
You, too can be delivered from the pit.
“God looks upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, He will deliver his soul from going into the pit” Job 33:27-28.
Don’t play the fool and spend the rest of your life serving the lusts of men, but rather submit to the will of God. Christ offers you a joyous life that passes all of your present understanding, and a peace that the world, which passes, cannot. May you, as I, be brought up to higher ground than this world’s golden delusion.
“He brought me up also out on an horrible pit and set me feet upon a rock (Christ), and he hath put a new song in my mouth” Psalm 40:2-3.
Preserved by Jesus when
My feet made haste to Hell
And there should I have Gone
But thou dost all things well.
Thy love was great Thy Mercy free
Which from the PIT Delivered me.
“For what shall it profit a man,
if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul”?
Gary George serves on the pastoral team at Sovereign Grace Chapel.
Gary is also a well known street evangelist in the greater Worcester Mass area.