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The Art Of Listening And The Grace To Obey

How does God direct and redirect lives?

We have heard tales of saints who had grand moments of conversion when they see either visions or grand signs of the Lord's presence and directly telling them what to do. But how does He do it among ordinary people like us who are not exactly as worldly as St. Paul or St. Ignatius or perhaps judged by the world as sinful as Mary Magdalene? Can it also go with flashes of light or a clap of thunder or a fleeting vision of the mystical kind?

Kenneth and his classmates

Marion Cruz was a young girl who had a typical teenage life, giving much effort to do her best in her studies, trying to win her parents' approval at most times, frequently socializing with friends and being quite active in school orgs. She had the good kind of dreams for herself when something unusual struck her. A sudden illness of a sibling made her go down on her knees one night to pray for healing but instead, she heard an inner voice say, "Marion, it is you who needs to be healed". Although stunned and perplexed, she knew it was God speaking in her heart. She may have been alone in the room but she felt His undeniable presence. Marion dared to ask what was meant by her needing to be healed and God responded by leading her to a deeper reflection of how she was living her life. Even as she was not at the extreme periphery of moral standards, she realized the Lord was not at the driver's seat of her life - she was! God showed her that not being centered on His will kept her away from Him. In a flash, God showed her the areas where she needed Him to be her Master. As she contemplated on these things, she realized that God did not want to be just on the fringes, but to be at the very core of her existence. It was at that moment when God called Marion to surrender all areas of her life to Him. It was an invitation so compelling she knew she could not refuse. Deeply moved, she gave Him her ALL.


It was a pivotal moment, a truly freeing experience. Despite not being well-versed in scripture at that time, she felt prompted by the Lord to read Psalm 51. It was King David's prayer of repentance. As she read the psalm, the following words really struck a chord in her, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, put a new and right spirit within me…. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." Indeed, that very evening, God enveloped Marion with His loving mercies and forgiveness. God healed.

That decisive step of total surrender turned Marion's life around.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, put a new and right spirit within me ...

The Lord guided her yearning heart as she hopped from one community to another in her search for a support group of brothers and sisters with whom she can share her faith journey. She eventually settled for a group for young professionals, Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon Community. Marion focused on establishing a deeper relationship with everyone in her immediate family, being more involved in their lives and making an effort to get to know them better. As her spirituality grew deeper and more directed, she was able to eventually evangelize members of her family and lead them to a personal relationship with the Lord and have them join prayer groups that catered to their spiritual needs.


Marion was in a 5-year relationship with a boyfriend then and because of her new-found commitment to follow the Lord in a radical way, she strongly felt that entering married life meant being a wife to someone who will likewise desire to have the Lord as center of their marriage and family life. Discerning that her current relationship then was not in keeping with God's will and purposes for her life, in obedience, she made that decision to trust God and let go, difficult as it may have seemed. Faithfulness to His call had its reward. Much later on in life, she met someone with whom she was able to share her desire to raise a God-centered family. She initially met a brother in community, Jun Cruz, albeit briefly during a community activity and then once again during a season of their lives when they individually have discerned that they were both for marriage. Their union has brought forth four beautiful children and 30 years of fruitful life as a married couple in the Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Community.

Faculty of CoJ

One other area that needed more alignment to God's will was Marion's calling as a teacher. Her desire to teach young children was purified slowly but surely through the years. From teaching in a secular school in her younger years, she eventually moved to work for a school where God is at the heart of its vision-mission. It was here where she received inspiration to establish a school for her community, together with three other sisters in the Lord. Cradle of Joy marked the clear intersection of her philosophy of education and the mission of shaping young hearts and minds for Jesus. Mission and vocation became one indeed. Although no longer involved in its operations, Marion currently serves on the school board. Today, Cradle of Joy continues to bring souls to Christ through its evangelization efforts to reach teachers and staff, students and their parents.

Perhaps that is how the Lord works indeed, one YES can lead to many more yeses.

With brothers and sisters in Christ

The story of Marion Cruz can be an inspiring story of any simple soul. When we think about it really, we are challenged to likewise honestly ask ourselves:

Who is on the driver-seat of my life? Is it God? Or is it me? Are ALL areas of my life directed towards God and totally surrendered to Him? If not, what areas do I still need to turn over to God to align my life to His will and purposes for my life? What is stopping me from giving my ALL to God?


Marion has these words to say about how seeking God and following His will has put meaning into everything in her life:

"Looking back 36 years after, from that fateful night God came to heal me in 1986, I can sincerely say that God has richly blessed the fruit of my obedience to His call: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you." (Matthew 6: 33). I did seek God's Kingdom first and His righteousness. I did as He had asked me to do as I gave my 100%, total surrender to His will. It had not been an easy road, there were challenges along the way, but I can say that indeed, God was true to His promise that all other things He added unto me!"


Perhaps the Lord has been trying to talk to you and direct or redirect your path towards Him now more than ever. As you listen and as He reveals areas of your life that He calls on you to surrender more fully, ask Him to grant you the grace you need to obey and to submit to His sovereignty …. and make Him your KING and your LORD today!
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