The Birth of the Epignosis Project
I looked around and saw marriages crumbling, unforgiveness rampant, and children of the Light behaving like children of darkness. I turned my gaze upon myself and saw a selfish, malcontent, listening to the scream of culture that had overtaken the Gentle Whisper of Truth. Despairing, I called out to the God I’d known my whole life, the God who, by his grace, will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle1, and the God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” made his light shine in my heart so I could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.2 The Epignosis Project was born. That was the fall of 2009, and I have never been the same.
In an ancient mandate, God instructed the Israelites to “build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you.”3 In response to the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ that God caused to shine in my heart that day, I began to build an altar. This altar has since evolved into a beautiful journey of enlightenment that I call The Epignosis Project; an event that now occurs for me every six months for twenty days. It is a spiritual, mental, physical and emotional cleansing for the purpose of embracing spiritual awakening and gaining a fuller, more complete, correct and discerning knowledge of God.
Epignosis: (ep-ig’-no-sis) is a Greek word meaning precise and correct knowledge; full and discerning knowledge; participatory, experiential knowledge.
It is the word Paul uses in these passages:
I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge (epignosis) of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. Ephesians 1:17-18
I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge (epignosis) and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God. Philippians 1:9-11
So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge (epignosis) of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. Colossians 1:9-10
That is the way I want to know God, don’t you? To have spiritual wisdom and insight, to have a heart flooded with light, to be confident of our hope, strength to live purely, and to bear healthy fruit! This is the kind of knowledge that goes beyond just knowing and sinks deep into the kind of knowing that only comes from intense, intimate, experiential relationship.
Let me ask you this, how is your faith working for you? Are you secretly perplexed when you hear others speak about the Glory of God or the beauty of Christ? Do you feel like you might be missing the point? Do you look outside of Christ to find satisfaction because you can’t imagine being satisfied in Christ alone? Is it painful to pray? Do you find any excuse to avoid cracking open a Bible, and when you finally do, do the words fall flat? Are you willing to take a chance to taste and see the goodness of the Christ? Then I invite you to join me in the Epignosis Project.
The Epinosis Project Deconstructed
I find it is helpful to recognize the natural rhythms God has placed in our hearts to determine the time of the year to engage in the Epignosis project. For me, I mark the Autumnal Equinox and the Vernal Equinox as the concluding day of my Epignosis each time. I chose these seasons because they both symbolize periods of shift and change. Spring symbolizes new life, fresh starts, new beginnings; autumn is the very essence of change as the gateway to bursts of color, smells of spice, and breathtaking sunsets. Both seasons stir anticipation in me, they always have, and I use this sense of anticipation to serve as the launching pad for each Epignosis Project with the culmination ending in a personal celebration at equinox. I find that the fall Epignosis also gives me the foundation for transitioning into a healthier, more meaningful Christmas Holiday season, and spring transitions my spirit beautifully into Holy Week.
Following the initial moment that God reached out and snatched me from a miry pit in the fall of 2009, I have been through five seasons of Epignosis. No season has ever disappointed. Each journey across the twenty days are filled with warfare, bliss, anguish and joy. As a woman, I liken these twenty days to the twenty hours I was in labor with my child. Epignosis Project spring 2010 birthed the desire to be in God’s word daily. Epignosis fall 2010 brought freedom from seeking satisfaction in anything less than Christ. This blog, Twirling Girl, was born out of The Epignosis Project of spring 2011. The fall 2011 Epignosis Project birthed a position of ministry leadership with the women at my church. Today marks the conclusion of Epignosis, spring 2012, and another ministry opportunity has taken shape and is at this moment being birthed. What will Epignosis Project Fall 2012 bring?
This project is deeply personal, and, should you decide to embark on such a journey it will be important for you to notice the direction the Holy Spirit is leading you at that season. I find I usually have a question I’m asking such as “what does it mean to abide in Christ” or ““What can I do with the time and resources I have to be part of building the kingdom of God for the glory of God?” (a question I took from Britt Merrick’s, Big God). That said, there are hallmarks of the Project that I find must be present in order for my spirit to receive the richest understanding of God within those twenty days. They are these:
Daily Bible Reading (if you are already on a one-year plan, then just stay the course, if you don’t have a plan, pick a gospel or an epistle to read through)
Daily Prayer (short or long, ask God to help you learn to pray, and practice crafting some prayer times consisting only of worship and thanksgiving)
Naming and taking appropriate action against idols (this often looks like fasting from whatever has taken God’s place as preeminent in your life)
Sequestering your mind by reading thought provoking theological works (Ditch the best-selling novels for a season and instead read books that point you to the Gospel of Christ. I recommend, The Pursuit of God by AW Tozer as a starting point)
Protecting your emotions by choosing sacred music over secular for this season (just for these twenty days, use the power of music as a tool for worship whenever you have control of the play button)
Intent and faith-filled listening for the Gentle Whisper (God will be speaking to you through what you read, see, and hear – pay attention)
Memorializing the journey (somehow, either by journal, photo-journal, blogging, or just sharing with a close friend or mentor, it is important to debrief and discuss what you are experiencing, and it helps keep you accountable to stay the course).
On the very practical side, I have recently found it extremely helpful to pair this season of spiritual cleansing with physical cleansing. I like to pay a visit to my local herbalist for some wonderful cleansing teas to drink each morning as I spend time in God’s Word and prayer. It is certainly not a necessary part, but for me, it helps sharpen the focus and gives me something tangible to do as I navigate the waters of the infinite and intangible. Just a little hint you may find helpful.
What The Epignosis Project is Not
Engaging in a twenty-day intensive spiritual journey is life changing and good, but do not enter into it as a means to:
Gain points with God. If you are cloaked in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, this is the only thing that counts with God. Our righteousness is like filthy rags outside of a life in Christ. You will most certainly be rewarded for your efforts, because when we seek God we find God, but if you are approaching it as means to get God on your side, or make God think you are amazing, do not engage in the Project. Wait until your heart is so thirsty for God alone, and not what God can give you, that you are desperate to do whatever it takes to meet God on his terms.
Manipulate God. Sometimes we think that we can bargain with God by saying, “Look what I am doing God! Look how spiritual I am. Don’t you think you owe me?” If you are approaching this project as a means to manipulate God, step away and wait upon the Lord until you are brought to a place of longing to simply know God, not know what God can do for you.
Check-off your good Christian to-do list. Again, the Epignosis Project is not a requirement, it is an appropriate response to the realization of the goodness of the gospel of Christ.
Do You Crave Epignosis of God?
If this simple twenty-day journey resonates with you, and you’d like to join me in this great adventure of learning to know God better and more fully, I welcome your companionship. Today marks the conclusion of Epignosis Spring 2012. This post is already indecently long, and yet I feel I’ve only touched the very surface of the essence of this Project. So if you’d like to pursue an Epignosis Project of your own, I invite you to join me at The Epignosis Project where I will be unfolding my heart and this Project in more detail in preparation for Epignosis Fall 2012, and I hope some of you will come along for the thrilling experience of a more intimate knowledge (epignosis) of God.
1) Matthew 12:20 2) 2 Corinthians 4:6 3)Exodus 20:24