Saturday, February 25, 2017
Open Our Eyes Lord -- Robert Cull
Somebody not knowing what this guy was experiencing emotionally at the time in 1976 might have assumed he was in a paradise-like place internally, just by looking at his physical surroundings in Hawaii (see the state’s seal here). But Bob Cull hadn’t become so transfixed by the beautiful scenery in the Aloha state that he ignored what was happening as he tried to reach a group of youngsters. Maybe you’ve had that moment, when the crowd behaved as if you were giving the briefing right after lunch, and the topic was something rather blasé. ‘Dare to be dull’…that’s what they’re whispering, or at least their body language is giving you that vibe. You cannot exactly lob a stick of dynamite into someone’s lap to remedy this situation. You can guess what Bob Cull’s alternative solution was as you consider the title of the song lyric by this 27-year-old Jesus ‘hippie’ – “Open Our Eyes Lord”.
Robert Cull was part of the Jesus Movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and that phenomenon ultimately travelled thousands of miles with him along for the journey. As one of the newfound Christians of that era in California, Cull and others in that crucible of faith development wanted their beliefs and practices to be simple and focused. Jesus, in a word, was it. This simple message of God’s grace through the Son resonated with them, and with many others who’d felt discarded by their generation’s older adults. They were, in fact, a consequence of an unpopular war (Vietnam) and a national political scandal (Watergate) that embittered them and their peers. They needed and searched for something they could trust. You can picture Bob, and probably his wife Joy whom he met at Costa Mesa’s Calvary Chapel, strumming on a guitar, humming and singing the uncomplicated tunes of that era, and letting Jesus soak into their beings. Bob and Joy could have remained in California, but they found themselves in Hawaii in 1976, where they took their version of the Jesus Movement. Bob was talking to young people at a Christian school, evidently trying to motivate them with the same message of Jesus’ influence that had touched his own life not too many years before then. But, he says the kids were unresponsive, and he was at a loss. It must have been a jolt for this Jesus hippie to feel their rejection of a God who had captured his spirit as a young person. Was there already an unbridgeable generation gap between them and himself? What was he to do? That’s when Bob prayed, and “’Open Our Eyes Lord” emerged. Cull had decided that only the God who’d reached inside his being years before could connect with the group to whom he spoke. Nothing intricate was needed, just eyes and ears that He could open.
Cull’s story suggests that he was in a classroom the first time that he pleaded with God for vision. Maybe other times, it was around a nighttime campfire, looking into the darkness. Did the song’s first singers in fact find something revelatory among shadows where before they’d seen nothing? Perhaps that’s the key that Bob discovered – ask God to let you see (or hear) something you have in fact been staring at, but have not yet noticed. If you see Him at least once, maybe you’ll take a chance and look at other things and see Him there too. Try out those new eyes.
See more information on the song discussed above also in The Complete Book of Hymns – Inspiring Stories About 600 Hymns and Praise Songs by William J. Petersen and Ardythe Petersen, Tyndale House Publishers, 2006.
See a very brief biography of composer here: http://christianmusicarchive.com/artist/bob-cull
See link here to examine the movement of which this composer was a part: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_music