They met in college, he an athletic playboy and she, a studious goody two shoes. It was an unlikely match from the start, a fact that her friends continually pointed out. His first move was to invite her to the local bar; she declined because she was leading a campus Bible study that evening. He’d heard plenty of rejection lines but that one was new.

Their first date was a week later and the hours brimmed with laughter. When she finally looked at her watch, it was 2 a.m. “I have to go!” she exclaimed like Cinderella at the ball.

“Don’t you want to come back to my room to see my roommate’s cute yellow pajamas?” he asked with a mischievous grin. She’d heard plenty of pickup lines but that was the worst.

And so their unlikely journey began. She invited him to church. He invited her to parties. She spoke of her faith in God. He backed her into a closet so he could kiss her. She joked that she was dating an octopus. He said it was more like dating a nun.

But the fact was, Jack had never met anyone like Elizabeth. She was full of fun yet maddeningly principled, refusing to give into his incessant demands for intimacy because, as she put it, her body could not be rented for the night for the cost of pizza and a movie.

Once at a drive-in theater Jack whispered suggestively, “Want to climb into the back seat?” “No,” Elizabeth replied grinning. “I’d rather stay up front with you.”

Elizabeth had certainly never dated anyone like Jack. Boyishly handsome with an infectious sense of humor, Jack had a soft heart that he was unashamed to show. He often serenaded her with love songs, and she wrote bad poetry, and they laughed until their sides ached.

Jack had been taught about God as a child but he had never really claimed the faith as his own. Elizabeth could see the God-shaped hole and his heart and she yearned for God to fill it. Jack resisted.

Eventually their differences became too great. Jack struggled with jealousy and Elizabeth knew she could not pursue a romance where Christ was not supreme, and so it ended. Her friends were relieved, and said so. Jack and Elizabeth were heartbroken.

Jack completed his senior year, landed a job as an engineer with a prestigious firm in New York City, and tried to ignore the emptiness in his heart. When the ache became to great, he made a decision that would change him forever. He relinquished control of his life to God.

The changes were immediate. He started going to church, joined a weekly Bible study, and cleaned up his life. Even his countenance changed.

Months later Jack and Elizabeth found themselves together for a concert. She had contracted a nasty flu so Jack pounced on the opportunity by visiting her room with flowers and candy. Kneeling beside her sick bed as she tossed with fever, he begged Elizabeth to go out with him later that week.

Elizabeth moaned, “If I say yes, will you go away so I can sleep?”

And thus the romance was rekindled, but this time it was rooted in Christ. Never has a couple laughed so much, shared so deeply, or entrusted themselves more fully to God’s care.

As time progressed and Jack began talking about marriage, Elizabeth had one lingering concern. She had seen too many marriages in which the wife carried all religious responsibility, and she wanted more than that. Jack was enthusiastic about his faith but it was still very new to him, so Elizabeth urged them to delay marriage until they could share spiritual leadership.

Jack took her words as a challenge so he delved into the Scriptures with renewed fervor. When Jack and Elizabeth were married a year later, he had a maturity of faith seldom found in a man of his age.

Now when she describes Jack’s early days, people are incredulous. Jack? The guy who reads encyclicals at the breakfast table and can quote Bible verses in his sleep?

This year Jack and Elizabeth will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. He is still boyishly handsome and she still laughs at his bad pickup lines, and they still entrust themselves to God’s care.

Their home has been filled with great joys and deep sorrows, but through it all they continue to find joy in God’s calling.

A most holy calling.

Marriage.