Meridian Publishing has just released a new book by Darla Isackson, a favorite Meridian author. Called, Trust God, No Matter What, the book can be purchased by clicking here or going to www.meridianbooks.net.

Darla Isackson has been there, done that. Of recent authors I have read, Darla Isackson strikes me as both authentic and centered as she writes of personal tragedies that have the potential of moving people to fear or faith.

Everyone has trials, problems, challenges, and disappointments. Isackson says, “it’s how we respond to each one that determines how quickly we learn the intended lesson.”

Another title for her book could be Spiritual Sanity: Regaining Perspective in the Face of Life’s Challenges. Darla writes from personal experience and effectively debunks myths we perpetuate such as “no one else is facing the trials I am,” and “the Mormon face-where Sunday church goers have no problems and no worries.”

Darla Isackson, who experienced divorce after 22 years of temple marriage and whose son died of suicidal depression, shares these and other experiences with the wisdom earned through the Refiner’s fire. “He knows what I need to learn,” she says, acknowledging that responsibility and accountability lie “with me only.” Because she is willing to share her own story-without complaint and without sentimentality-this reader was able to identify with her accounts that resembled me and my attitudes, biases and prejudices, as well as pre-conceived notions about the real dilemmas I face.

Tears flowed freely as I read Darla’s powerful insights that follow painful experiences, “provided I look to God, trusting that each has its purpose.” For example, “pridefulness can’t be yoked with Christ, only humility.”

There is an incredible reach and span to Darla Isackson’s writing-from personal to universal, from grief to joy, from misery to understanding.

Typically we like to make a distinction between our private and public lives and say, “Whatever I do in my private life is nobody else’s business.” But anyone trying to live a spiritual life will soon discover that the most personal is the most universal, the most hidden the most public, and the most solitary the most communal. As another has said:

What we live in the most intimate places of our beings is not just for us but for all people. That is why our inner lives are lives for others. That is why our solitude is a gift to our community, and that is why our most secret thoughts affect our common life.

Jesus says, ” Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-15).

And this is what strikes me most forcibly about Darla’s writing: the most inner light is a light for the world because the inner light is a reflection of His.

To me, Isackson exemplifies what has been referred to as “downright solid faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ” because when we are in the foxholes of life, there is no room for gray. It’s total faith in a Savior because there is nothing else. She presents practical applications of eternal principles. And she cites many other authors to illustrate those principles, including great stories and insightful quotes, crafting them to the topic at hand.

Darla personalizes the gospel in ways both poignant and powerful. She teaches that faith is always a choice in spite of how I may feel in the moment.

Just reading the Table of Contents shows a remarkable breadth and depth of understanding of what it means to be “in the hands of God.” We trust God when we are hurting-when suffering physical pain, spiritual dilemmas and emotional trauma. We learn to trust God when prayers seem as brass, when we pray amiss, when the answer is no. We come to trust God when a child strays-when grief overcomes, when heartaches are real and when children disobey (when we try to help in the worst way)!

Continuing the review of the contents of this insightful book, we see that God can be trusted even when divorce shatters our confidence, when the “forever family” is not, when we acknowledge our part in its dissolution and when through a broken heart we let in the light of Christ.

As we continue through the chapters, we come to appreciate with Darla the power that trusting God gives us when a loved one dies, when we are angry, discouraged or don’t know how to forgive, finally experiencing the “sunrise after sorrow” that comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that most exalting doctrine of the Restored Gospel.

Darla Isackson, in ways always personal and touching helps us explore the “spiritual anatomy of anger,” looking more deeply at the atonement and in particular at how it helped her face the despondency following the death of her son. Indeed this book was one of the “fruits” of that heart wrenching trial. Trusting God means less striving, more surrender-including a surrender of our pride and the difference between “letting go” and “giving up.”

The section on faith and trust in God is particularly helpful to me because the question is posed: Can faith be a decision? Says Darla:

I’ve concluded that faith cannot depend on outside circumstances at all; it is instead an inner choice based on belief in eternal promises and trust in God’s plan. Faith must be based on His truth. It is a myth that if I follow Christ and keep my covenants then all will work out as I plan or wish-that I can receive some guarantee through good behavior. Look at the life of the prophets! Instead, true faith knows that the goal is to make His will my will and to trust God whatever comes in the meantime.

And the discerning summarizing statement was both pithy and perceptive: “Faith, like forgiveness, is not simply an emotion, but often requires of us a decision to act in favor of what we desire before the blessings flow.”

The more I read of Darla Isackson’s book, the less I wanted it to end. Each section, each chapter, each story, scripture and quote simply added to the body of insights and perspective she imparts to “real-life” gospel questions and issues: when our spiritual lives are in jeopardy, what faith is and isn’t, why God’s purposes cannot be thwarted.

Finally, trusting God is based on gratitude wherein we “enjoy the sparkle of the snow.”

I have a 94-year-old friend who is very dear to me. She called one evening after she received a piece of my writing-an essay I thought would comfort her in her afflictions. Much to my surprise, she sensed the emotional pain I had been feeling when I wrote it, and she was concerned about me. She thinks I have always been a bit too serious about life, and said, “Oh my dear Darla, you can just enjoy the sparkle of the snow-you don’t have to shovel it!”

Just as a teaser, I can tell you that your reading will show how to be grateful even for fleas! Yes, those “horrible little creatures” that enabled prisoners to study the word of God.

Continues Darla, “Can we each learn to thank God not only for the fleas in our lives but also for the thorns and briars and noxious weeds that afflict and torment us? Can we repent of our short-sightedness and trust God’s all-knowing, infinite wisdom?”

This author is not hesitant to share her most intimate and cherished experiences if they will help illustrate a point. Time and again she chooses to divulge events that while private perfectly capture the generality for us all. My own emotions were accessed through her stories, endearing her to me and to the precious principles of truth taught therein.

The last section of the book-trusting God because He is most trustworthy-is perhaps the most personal and most specifically applicable to each of us. Darla Isackson crams a lot of content in to this final portion of the book, illustrating the gift of the Word of God in our lives, reminding us that one of His names is The Word. She exclaims:

No wonder I love the scriptures so much-they are filled with the words of Christ, filled with soul food. When I feast, rather than nibble, those words nourish and edify me and are the nutrients for spiritual growth and guidance. How many times I have been faint of heart, soul-hungry, and have come to the scriptures and been filled, satisfied, lifted up.

“The Lord is my light,” she continues, literally and figuratively:

No wonder I yearn for the dawn; no wonder I bask in the warmth of the sun’s rays; no wonder everything good in life can be compared to light, everything evil to darkness. I was born with the light of Christ; consequently I yearn to fill my life with that light. And since I’ve made covenants to take upon myself His name and always remember Him, any moment without His light is hard to bear.

One of just many personal stories shared in the book speaks of the marvelous change that takes place when one truly comes to appreciate the power of the Atonement. Hearing the testimony of a man recently released from prison, Darla explains:

I was astonished when he said he had been released from prison only a few days earlier. His countenance was full of light; his words full of hope. His testimony of the Savior’s power in his life was strong and sure. I saw a living witness that day of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, born into the world to wipe away our sins.

And I am certain, that you will, like me, resonate with the power of Darla’s poetry, written from a place of inspiration to encapsulate profound ideas:

One Tiny Candle

Determined to defeat daunting darkness,
I feverishly tried to load it into buckets-
Carried, dumped, loaded again
Until I collapsed, exhausted.

Darkness stood undiminished.
I wept in frustration,
Proven powerless, my task impossible.

A friend appeared
Holding one tiny candle, one flickering flame.
I gasped as that wee speck of light
dispelled darkness.

I threw my bucket far away and ran for candles.
My friend’s candle lost no light by lighting mine.
We two passed our flames to candle after candle.

Each tiny flame ate hungrily, voraciously, big gulps of darkness,
Replacing it with shimmering light.
This effort not exhausting, but joyful!
And I, a child of Light
Recognized at last my one true task.

My recommendation for this book is unstinting. I find new gems with each re-reading, with insights giving succor to my soul. There is something Hugh Nibley said regarding scholars and that is that they publish. Darla Isackson is a student of the scriptures, a practitioner of their truths and a disciple who trusts God, no matter what.

This book can be purchased at www.meridianbooks.net.

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