Wilderness Wanderings: Finding Contentment in the Desert Times of Life, by Stacy Reaoch
Foreword by Jani Ortlund
Endorsed by Sarah Walton, Christine Hoover, Matt Smethurst, Erin Davis, Tom Schreiner, and more.
Our broken, fallen world is marked by a constant struggle for contentment. In the difficulties of each day, we can be prone to complain and think the grass is greener on the other side. We can doubt God’s goodness and his plan for us, especially when our path is dark and we feel lost in the wilderness of life.
The Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land was a journey much like our own. Fear, discontentment, and a failure to trust God plagued the very people he had miraculously delivered from slavery. In this gospel-centered devotional, busy women will find encouragement through the ups and downs of life as they glean insights through daily readings, short teachings, and personal reflection questions for each day. The chronological readings through Exodus and Numbers will allow women to see God’s big-picture plan of the Israelites’ trek through the wilderness, while finding hope and wisdom for their daily trials of life. God’s mercy, judgment, faithfulness, and sustaining grace through hardship will come alive as women see parallels in their own lives with the journey of Moses and the Israelites. These 25 devotionals will guide women through a significant portion of the biblical storyline while steering them to find contentment in the only One who will truly satisfy.
Stacy Reaoch is a pastor’s wife and mother of four. She is passionate about studying the Bible and helping women apply God’s life-changing truths to their daily lives. Stacy has written for various ministries including Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition and Revive Our Hearts. She and her husband, Ben, live in Pittsburgh, PA with their children.
“I found myself encouraged and challenged by the biblical, insightful, and practical wisdom woven throughout this book.”
“Our lives often mirror the Israelites’ journey into and through the wilderness years: hardship, uncertainty, and doubt. And yet, the same God who provided and cared for them cares for us today. Stacy extracts for us the truths regarding God’s constant character, character that he displayed to the wandering Israelites and that can sustain us even now.”
—Christine Hoover, author of Searching for Spring and Messy Beautiful Friendship
“Stacy Reaoch has thought long and hard about the Israelites and their wilderness journeys. In this devotional book, she peers into the doubts, fears, discontentment, and disobedience of their hearts with insight and discernment. And then she accurately and incisively demonstrates how these very realities reside in our own hearts. She focuses on the truth of God’s character, God’s promises, and God’s ways shown throughout the wilderness wanderings, encouraging all of us to trust, fear, hope in, rest in, and obey our Redeemer and Savior. Stacy writes with clarity and creativity, using appropriate illustrations and applications. Each entry has a suggested prayer and several questions for self-examination. We highly recommend this book for careful, prayerful reflection.”
—Bruce and Jodi Ware, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY
“In the midst of my own journey through the wilderness, I found myself encouraged and challenged by the biblical, insightful, and practical wisdom woven throughout Wilderness Wanderings. There is much to glean from the Israelites’ time in the wilderness and Stacy does a wonderful job applying its biblical truths to our own lives.”
—Sarah Walton, co-author of Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering
“There’s a reason to remember the places God’s people have been and the many, many (many) times He has carried them through. We all find ourselves wandering at times. Wandering through the desert of disappointment, the desert of fear, the desert of pain. . . we need the reminder that the God who was with Moses is with us, every step of the way. Consider this delightful devotional your must-have guide for any season of wandering.”
—Erin Davis, author, blogger, and wilderness wanderer.
“In Wilderness Wanderings, Stacy Reaoch puts on her tour-guide hat and walks us through one of the most significant sections of Scripture. On page after page, Reaoch applies ancient truths to contemporary life in a style that will inspire reflection and devotion. Read and be stirred to trust the God who can part waters.”
—Matt Smethurst, managing editor of The Gospel Coalition
“Wilderness Wanderings is a feast of truth for tired, busy women. Stacy points us to the Israelites’ wilderness journey to draw a compelling parallel to our lives as twenty-first century women, offering us true hope in gospel grace. I wish every woman would pick up this book — but especially young women — and taste the joy, peace, and contentment that come from resting in Christ.”
—Jaquelle Crowe, author of This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years.
“Adulthood is so much harder than we expected in adolescence. The hills are steep, the path is not evenly paved, and the twists and turns are often treacherous. But the joys! The wilderness joys of trusting our heavenly Father, and releasing our grasp on earthly comforts, are deeper and sweeter than we could have dreamed. Stacy Reaoch is a gifted guide for real joy in hard places. She loves God, is full of his word, has walked this way herself, and is ready to take you through the stresses, strains, pains, and pleasures of desert life on the path to the Promised Land. The exodus from fear and discontent isn’t easy, but oh is it worth it.”
—David Mathis, executive editor, desiringGod.org; pastor, Cities Church, Minneapolis/St. Paul; author, Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines
“In our struggle to find contentment where God has us, we can often feel completely alone, as if no one else has ever experienced our struggle. But Scripture tells a different story, for there we see that there is nothing we face that is not common to us all. The struggle of the Israelites to find contentment in the wilderness has a message for all of us, and Stacy helpfully offers us that message. I pray this book serves you not only to rest in God’s abundant care for you, but also to know that his word still speaks even all these centuries later.”
—Courtney Reissig, author, Glory in the Ordinary and The Accidental Feminist
“Wilderness Wanderings is insightful and engaging. Pick it up as a companion to your reading of the Exodus and you will find yourself exhorted, convicted, and most of all encouraged about the great God who ultimately sent his Son to free his people from slavery to sin.”
—Keri Folmar, author, The Good Portion: the Doctrine of Scripture for Every Woman and Joy!, Faith and Grace Bible studies for women
“Wilderness Wanderings is a tonic for the soul. Reaoch takes us through the experiences of Israel in the wilderness and deftly applies the text to our lives today. The book is biblically faithful, spiritually challenging, and encouraging. A wonderful resource for both personal reading and for group discussion.”
—Tom and Diane Schreiner, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY
“Faithfulness to Scripture marks the pages of Stacy’s book, as she helpfully unfolds the wilderness journey of the Israelites and applies the timeless truths of God’s Word to us. Through her writing we behold our powerful, trustworthy, and wise God, the God of biblical history and the God who walks closely with us in our wilderness wanderings, right now.”
—Kristen Wetherell, co-author of Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering
“Every single one of us is met with seasons of life where difficulty seemingly lingers without end. In Wilderness Wanderings: Finding Contentment in the Desert Times of Life, Stacy Reaoch seeks to help readers by faithfully taking them through the Exodus story, pointing them to Christ, and then providing them with practical guidance from the Word of God. I encourage you to pick up Stacy’s book and learn the faithfulness and greatness of our God from a fellow pilgrim. In doing so, you’ll be blessed by her biblically faithful exposition, her gospel-centered focus, and her practical guidance from a life lived before the face of our beloved Lord Jesus.”
—Dave Jenkins, Executive Director, Servants of Grace Ministries, Executive Editor, Theology for Life Magazine, Co-Host, The Equipping You in Grace Podcast.
“Anyone who has lived the Christian life for a season knows that following Christ inevitably means walking into suffering, trials, and discouragement. Wilderness Wanderings is a guidebook through these barren and difficult paths, and a drink of cool water for the weary traveler. Using the biblical narrative of Israel’s years in the wilderness, Stacy Reaoch lifts our eyes from our dusty feet and points us to the Lord’s grace and mercy in even the most trying circumstances. Arranged into a series of twenty five devotionals, this book is sure to bear fruit in the lives of readers for a long time to come.”
—Megan Hill, author Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer in Our Homes, Communities, and Churches; regular contributor Today in the Word, The Gospel Coalition, CT Women, and Christward Collective; editorial board member Christianity Today
“Wilderness Wanderings follows Israel’s years in the desert before entering the Promised Land. In studying this portion of biblical history, you’ll see yourself and God’s faithfulness in your own desert wanderings. Like Israel, we are quick to forget all God has done in our lives. Stacy’s Word-centered devotional will remind you afresh of God’s unending grace and faithfulness and, above all, his provision of life in Christ.”
—Christina Fox, speaker, writer, and author of A Heart Set Free and Closer Than a Sister.
“As Stacy leads us through the wilderness with the Israelites, keenly unveiling God’s deeper purposes in their seeming aimlessness, she also patiently testifies by her own life that it is the sovereign hand of a loving God that directs each wandering step. She shows us that God’s providence always conspires to give his children more of Christ—and it is in the desert that we learn the sweetness of the living water found only in him.”
—Abigail Dodds, blogger and author
Are you a control freak like me? From my calendar to my kitchen, from my money to my make-up, I like to create a plan and control it to completion. No wandering off course for me! How could God be pleased with that? I’ve got too much work to do! I’m just too busy to waste my time meandering through a day.
So when I find myself in a dry spell where all my self-important busy-ness disintegrates, where normal life gets strangled in the wilderness of a new job or the complexities of a new relationship or the desert of an unexpected loss, it’s then that confusion and guilt find their way straight to my heart. And it’s then that I need help–the kind of help that Stacy Reaoch beautifully offers us in this treasure you are holding in your hands.
Tracing the “Wilderness Wanderings” of the children of Israel on their way to the Promised Land, Stacy skillfully helps us see ourselves within those wanderings, showing us how much like Moses and the Israelites we really are. And then she offers us the hope of a powerful, loving, and sovereign God for our inevitable wilderness experiences.
This book is ideal for busy women who have limited time to be in the Word, but desire to study a chronological section of Scripture and see how it applies to their lives. It could be used individually, in a small group Bible study, or in one-on-one mentoring. The simple but concise thought questions that follow each devotional help guide her readers into a meaningful response to God’s Word.
Winsomely relating her own experiences as a woman, a wife, and a mother, Stacy identifies with our needs as we each walk our own pathway toward the eternal Promised Land. She reminds us that with God, there is no unnoticed suffering, especially on that seemingly pointless pathway marked with injustice. She encourages us to loosen our grip on the circumstances and people we so often want to control as we walk toward Heaven.
Stacy also carefully warns us about the dangers of disobedience–not only for us, but also for those closest to us. She opens up one of my favorite biblical themes: generational blessings. She shows us God’s desire for complete, heartfelt obedience. What kind of legacy do we want to leave? As you read through this book, you will be reminded that your own wilderness wanderings have a purpose, and that your responses to your present desert experience have eternal consequences.
Settle in with this gem of a book. Read it with both an open Bible and an open heart. Let it be your manna for a month or so. Say with Jeremiah, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16). Let the God of Moses and Joshua guide you through your own wilderness wanderings, giving you “drink from the river of his delights” (Psalm 36:8).
And when our days in this worldly wilderness are finally finished and we have reached the Promised Land, let’s look for each other and praise our kind King together for the wonder of being included in those who sing around his Throne, “Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph” (Deuteronomy 33:29). I can’t wait!
Author; Vice President, Renewal Ministries