They landed in Ephesus where Priscilla and Aquila got off and stayed. Paul left the ship briefly to go to the meeting place and preach to the Jews. They wanted him to stay longer, but he couldn't. But after saying good bye, he promised, "I'll be back, God willing."
How many people have I said I would come visit again and it hasn't happened (yet)? When I went to Mexico last year, I told the friends I made at the church there, that I promised I would return. And I've tried, but I haven't been back (yet). I've realized that I, personally, was assuring them of my return. I can't do that. Even though I try and try and try, I can't control my own life. God has the control. I need to learn to accept it.
I think Paul expressed his want to return, perfectly, to his new friends. "I'll be back" = His own personal connection and desire to return to them. "God willing" = But only if God desires it to be so.
In many things, I have learned that I can't make a promise that I can't be sure I will keep. But in these times where I am extremely passionate about something, I will tell them "I promise." I can't make the promise. I can promise that I will live my life according to God's will, but even then sometimes I stray from that promise. I am learning, when I pray, to request what I want, but then say "Your will be done." Sometimes I have to repeat it, to remind myself that God knows best. He can see much further down my path of life and only He knows why one choice may be better than the other. Even though, sometimes, it is hard for me to understand.
Paul's simple promise, delivered to the people of Ephesus, achieved two things: it let them know he cared enough to return & it let them and God know, that he honored God's will for his life. It is such an easy solution.
Lord, I make promises all the time. But they are all empty if it is not in your will. I desire to do your will. And, Lord, you know that each day, grows more faith inside of me. I feel it building, Lord. I know you have amazing things in store for me. I wish I could see it. It would make the trusting easier, but your will be done, not mine. You know better. You always have. Please continue to show me each step as I need to know it, Lord. Make me bold. Make me worthy of your calling. Call me, Lord. And open my ears and my eyes and my heart that I might truly recognize your calling. May your will always be done in and through me. I pray this in Jesus' name,