Again this Fourth of July we, the American people, celebrated our existence as a free nation. In doing so we reaffirmed one of our mantras of self-definition: “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” This idea resides deep within each one of us. It helps form our worldview—the lenses through which we view and interpret our lives.

I wonder how a chunk of iron views the purpose for its existence. I know that when a skilled iron worker looks at a raw piece of iron he or she sees potential. The artist sees a magnificent work of art and the mechanic sees a perfectly useful tool. But I wonder what the iron thinks.

To get that seemingly useless chunk of iron transformed into that tool or work of art the worker must first throw the poor thing into the blast furnace (ouch!) Once the heat has softened it up the iron must be placed up on the anvil. With each excruciating blow of the hammer the worthless chunk of iron comes that much closer to its potential—to the dream that the maker has for it.

What if that little chunk of iron had as the foundation for its worldview our American mantra? (“Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”) I suspect that the transformation process would seem pretty shocking, don’t you? Confusion, anger, bitterness, unbelief, disobedience, and blasphemy are just a few of the things that would certainly accompany the iron’s character given the discrepancy between the perceived purpose and the actual purpose for its existence.

What about us? What is the purpose for our existence as God’s people? Is it life, liberty, and the pursuit of self-defined happiness? Many think so. Many are shocked at the process of life as well. Or is something more going on? Does the blast furnace actually have our best interests in view? Does each blow of the hammer really deliver a message of hope and of love?

Perhaps if we took off our glasses and put on those of our Maker we would be more willing to get down off the throne and humbly but bravely crawl up on the anvil.