There is a general will of God and a specific will of God.
The general will of God is like a circle. The specific will of God is like a small dot within that circle. The Bible reveals the general will of God; our actions help us find the specific will of God for our lives.
The difference between the general and the specific aspects of God’s will has produced two different theories as to how we should go about discovering God’s will. The “Dot” theory believes that in every case there is one specific action God wants us to take. One person we are supposed to marry. One place we are supposed to go to college. One mission trip we must go on. One color of socks God wants us to wear today. People who always wait for the “dot” to be revealed are usually “sitters.”
The “Circle” theory believes there are a variety of actions that please God. There are boundaries (revealed by God’s written Word) but within that circle there are a variety of choices that God celebrates. For example, the Bible says we should not marry unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14) but within the circle of potential spouses who are born-again and love God there might be many who would please both God and you.
People who are willing to make choices within the circle of God’s will are usually “movers.” New believers are often “dot” Christians. When my youngest brother was ten years old, I had to tell him, “David, don’t run out onto the street.” He needed very specific instructions. But now that he is in college, I don’t worry about him chasing after cars. Why? Because I can trust him to make wise decisions. A baby must be told not to touch a hot stove, but an adult knows better. Similarly, a baby believer often needs specific instructions about how to live the Christian life. A mature Christian generally does not need detailed instructions because they have learned enough about the character and nature of God to know what is right and wrong.
Mature Christians have learned to follow the advice of St. Augustine who said, “Love God and do as you please.” If you really love God, you want to do what pleases Him. You should, “Love God with all your heart and do whatever else you want.” As long as you are in the “circle” of what God wants, there are many choices within that circle that please God equally. When we are within the general will of God, we have great freedom with our specific actions. As you walk in the general will of God, you will discover the specific will of God for your life. The way the specific will of God is revealed is through your actions. As you move, God is able to guide you to the specific point He wants you at.