The request came to me Wednesday. "Please pray for the elections in Iraq. I have a friend there who will be guarding one of the polling places. Well actually, he will be guarding the ballot boxes to make sure they arrive at the place the ballots are to be counted when all the votes have been cast. He already knows he is a primary target for insurgents who are trying to disrupt the election with violence." This request had an edge of urgency since I had just learned that the husband of a young lady I had known since she was a toddler had lost his life this week in Iraq.

Many eruptions of violence over the last several days and weeks were targeted at Iraqi citizens to keep them from voting, at U.S. soldiers to harm and discourage them, at Iraqi political candidates to eliminate them, and at newly trained policemen to intimidate them with the threat of death. These violent events are powerful reminders of the high cost often paid for freedom and the right to have one's vote count — whether the vote occurred in Iraq on Sunday or in your corner of the globe on any other election day. (The joy of having a blue or purple finger that showed that an Iraqi voted Sunday was proof that millions of them considered their freedom to vote was worth risking their lives!)

Freedom has nearly always been purchased at a very high price. It is often even more costly to maintain. Even when freedom has been purchased, there is no assurance that those who have been blessed to receive it will make their hard-won freedom — their "vote" so to speak — truly count. The bloody events and the tremendously high cost paid to ensure yesterday's election in Iraq serves as a bold and inescapable reminder of this ongoing challenge.

As disciples of Jesus, we too have been given freedom. It is a freedom purchased at an unbelievably high cost. God himself paid the price for our freedom. It was won through the sacrifice of his Son who came to earth, lived his life of service, and suffered a death of ridicule and shame as a sacrifice to ransom and free us from sin and death. He purchased our freedom for us!

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him for this purpose long before the world began, but now in these final days, he was sent to the earth for all to see. And he did this for you. (1 Peter 1:18-20 NLT)

Is such a high price for the freedom to vote in Iraq worth the cost? Are those who receive such costly freedom worthy of what they have been given through the sacrifice of others? These are very real and very hard questions. These questions will rest especially heavy on the hearts of those who have lost someone close to them who has paid this cost. While our hearts break for them and for their loss, we also pray that the price their loved ones paid for this freedom will not be wasted. We pray that true freedom and peace can come because of that sacrifice. Our hope is that an even greater freedom for all the world's people can be achieved through the peace we hope their sacrifice will ultimately help achieve.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests, plead for God's mercy upon them, and give thanks. Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, for he wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. (1 Timothy 2:1-6)

We pray that an even greater freedom can be achieved.
Their price, their agony, and their sacrifice should make all of us think deeply about those same questions regarding the sacrifice that Jesus made for our eternal spiritual freedom. Was the high price Jesus paid for our freedom worth the cost? Are we really worthy of the sacrifice he made to purchase our freedom?

With such a high price paid for us, we must ask ourselves, "Am I living in such a way to make my life and my influence count, or am I squandering and wasting my freedom on what is worthless, destructive, and vain?"

Let's never be guilty of ingratitude or irresponsibility for the opportunity to be free from the power of sin and death bought for us by the blood of Jesus. May we demonstrate our joy for being given this freedom as openly as many of those who risked their lives to vote yesterday displayed in showing us their ink-stained finger to show they had exercised their freedom to vote!