“But going ahead to the ship, we set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul aboard there, for so he had arranged, intending himself to go by land.” (Acts 20:13).
Leaving Troas, Paul decided to take the land route to Assos. His team would need a boat for the rest of the missions trip, but the first part of the journey was shorter by foot. He put everyone else on the boat, but he went by land. Alone, he walked. What were some of the benefits of this decision?
He would get some time alone.
Paul continually served and helped others. His mouth was always open — he unceasingly taught. This time alone would be useful to recharge his batteries for the difficulties that awaited him in Jerusalem. God was likely also helping him learn aloneness, as he would have plenty of it once arrested in Jerusalem. Additionally, time alone is good for teachers, because it helps them sort out and codify truths for the next time they're asked to teach.
He would get some exercise.
To walk would take some muscle. This hike would enable Paul to exercise the body, not just the mind. His strength would increase and his muscles, through use, would relax. Bodily exercise profits a little, and Paul would have benefited from this physical exertion.
He would get a little more time in Troas.
As mentioned earlier, the boat ride from Troas to Assos might have taken longer than the walk from Troas to Assos. But they couldn’t ditch their boat, so most of them journeyed by sea. This afforded Paul the luxury of walking, which likely gave him a little more time to serve the church in Troas. His priority was ever others. It is fascinating to consider the lives that were changed due to the extra day or two he gained in Troas.
He would get some time to talk with God.
I am certain the long walk to Assos provided Paul with an opportunity to commune with God. Jesus often broke away to the wilderness or the mountaintop to get alone with God, and Paul seems to have carried on the practice. As he journeyed, God spoke, and Paul could pour out his heart to his heavenly Father. This communion and fellowship with God would have been vital to the next stage of Paul’s ministry life, a difficult season in Jerusalem and beyond. A little time alone with God likely aided him as he prepared for the persecution to come.
We cannot know for certain why Paul decided to walk to Assos, but it was his decision, one which likely benefited him and the kingdom in a myriad of ways. May even our mundane travel decisions lead to God's glory.