What's the Point? By inSpire with Eleanor Kirk

Photo: Eleanor Kirk
We asked Eleanor Kirk several questions about her songwriting efforts and the impact it has made on her life.

inSpire - Eleanor, we have not had the privilege of meeting you yet, but when you saw our notice about inSpire you contacted us and related how God gave you a songwriting experience. Please share your story with our readers.

Kirk - I think it was 1991 when I wrote my first song. As the adult Sabbath School teacher, my heart had thrilled with Isaiah's as I led my students through the first lesson of a new quarter based on the book of Isaiah. The day after teaching about how the prophet had seen the Lord high and lifted up, I was walking along Kaneohe Bay on Windward Oahu when two lines of a melody complete with lyrics dropped into my head. Look upon me, high and lifted up. Look upon me possessing all power. As I sang them over and over while I rushed home to write them down, more kept coming. In just a few minutes I had the lyrics to the entire song on paper and was busy adding ukulele chords. I had never experienced this before, nor had I ever imagined I'd write a song.

Soon afterward, I was scheduled to give special music in the Waimanalo Adventist Church. Everyone imagined I would play the organ as I usually did, so when I stepped up to the microphone with my ukulele, an audible gasp was resounded in the little A-frame building. I'd been attending this church for twenty years, long enough for everyone to know that I didn't sing. To my surprise, singing the song the Lord had given me seemed natural. The congregation burst into applause at the end, unheard of in that church, and the visiting pastor asked me to sing the song again at the end of the sermon because it so beautifully expressed the message of his sermon.

With my newly opened spiritual ears, I began to listen for new songs. After I had presented one in church, I'd often discover another. Looking back on them, I find they chronicle my spiritual journey. In the twenty years since then I've put down lyrics and melodies for over 80 songs, some of which I've labored over, and others of which have come as the first one did, more or less in one piece. These are usually the best.

inSpire - Sometimes songwriters get discouraged and think they are wasting their time. Can you think of any stories related to your songwriting that have inspired you to carry on?

Kirk - I at first thought that my songs were worthy of publishing. As I learned how daunting the process was, I became discouraged. Eventually, I realized that publication wasn't the issue. Using the talent God had given me in the arena He provided was my responsibility as a steward. One experience that illustrated this to me was an occasion when church members were invited to visit a member who was dying of cancer. Since the woman was a Spanish speaker, both the English and Spanish speaking pastors went, along with many members of her family. To my surprise, the pastors prayed for peace over her and support for the dying process. No one else was expected to pray. I asked if I could sing a song, and everyone agreed. I sang a simple song about how the power of God is much stronger than all the forces of the evil one. I could feel the atmosphere in the room change as I sang. Then I asked if I could pray. I prayed that God would heal the woman, lift her up and restore her to her family. Many hearty amens punctuated the prayer. The woman, who had about a 3% chance of survival, recovered and lived another decade. At that point, I realized that being published wasn't the point. Each song the Lord had given me had a mission, and I needed to do what I could to see that they accomplished it.

inSpire - That's a beautiful story. God can, and does use simple songs to heal borken hearts and disease-ravaged bodies. Thank you for what you are doing to build up the body of Christ.

This interview was conducted by Rich DuBose, Director of Pacific Union Conference Church Support Services and the inSpire project. All rights reserved © 2012 VisitInSpire.org. Click here for content usage information.