Patience is a fruit of the Spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, . . . — Gal. 5:22
Patience and faith and wisdom and maturity are all bound up together. Consider Abraham’s faith and patience:
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. — Heb. 11:8-10
From the time of God’s promise to Abraham, it was over four hundred years before his descendants were freed from Egyptian slavery. It was a thousand years before Solomon dedicated God’s palace in what was once Melchizedek’s Salem on Mount Moriah. It was another thousand years before Jesus the new Melchizedek inaugurated the New Jerusalem of his church.
Sometimes the patience that the Spirit wants to forge in us is a thousand-year patience.
What would it look like if we were to have a thousand-year patience in our dreams and visions for God’s church?
That is not to say that we should be complacent, or work with any less fervor. It is simply to recognize that God’s kingdom grows like yeast or like a tree. We see this in our own lives, too: while there are great seasons of spring-like growth, over the long haul maturation and glorification is largely a matter of plodding self-sacrificial faithfulness. While the kingdoms of men might rise and fall quickly by the compulsion and cowing of the sword, God’s kingdom flourishes by the nurture (Eph. 5:26) and cutting (Eph. 6:17) of the sword of the Spirit — the word of God.
But this also expands our horizons: what would it look like to dream thousand-year dreams and pray thousand-year prayers for God’s church? If God intends to bless his people to a thousand generations (Ps. 105:8), as his own personal name attests (Ex. 34:6-7), then things might only just be starting to warm up after another thousand years.
See also the future of Jesus.