Has it really been three years yesterday since Annika Sorenstam opened play at the Colonial with a 71? Granted, she fired a 74 the next day and missed the cut. But she opened the tournament with a solid round and, if memory serves me well, beat her fellow competitors in her group that Thursday. Did anyone think she could not accomplish that? We are talking about one of the top five most dominant athletes in the world. The record she has compiled over the past several years verifies that.

Then there are those who want to be Annika Sorenstam, or Tiger Woods, or Barry Bonds, or Reynaldihno (I think I spelled that right). The problem is that they try to do the things that the others have done without the background of proof that they can. Michelle Wie wants to beat the men in one of their tournaments. Problem is, she has yet to beat the women in one of theirs. How many great amateur players have we seen in golf since Tiger Woods joined the PGA Tour that have not held up to their press clippings?

Whether it be golf, baseball, football, basketball, tennis or soccer there are always going to be those glittering stars of the amateur ranks that just never quite make it in the professional arena as winners. Does the name Anna Kournikova ring a bell? Why does this happen? I am thoroughly convinced that top amateurs fail to be top pros simply because they never grow up in their sport. Oddly, they try so hard to do so, but miss the greatest truth about professional athletes.

They play games. When the press to win exceeds the press to personally enjoy the game the game becomes laborious. That is why all the non-stars are still out there. That's why there are still people out there who make you ask, "Who did you say won?" They've grown up but they haven't lost their perspective on the fact that they are being paid to play a game. When all is said and done, the Christian life is much like that. We don't have to worry about the final victory for us. It's already been won.

I know. Living the way God wants us to is difficult. The reason is that we allow it to take the joy from us and we become weak. When the Jews had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple they read the Book of the Law of Moses openly for all to hear, and all wept. Nehemiah's words come through history to us today. "Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10 Just like those professional athletes who still allow themselves to enjoy their sport, allow yourself to relax in the joy of the Lord. That joy is the strength necessary to live the life we have been called to live.