"Whatever man may stand, whatever he may do, to whatever he may apply his hand - in agriculture, in commerce, and in industry, or his mind, in the world of art, and science - he is, in whatsoever it may be, constantly standing before the face of God. He is employed in the service of his God. He has strictly to obey his God. And above all, he has to aim at the glory of his God."
When I accepted the invitation to serve as the new director of Areopagus Campus Ministry, John G. Verkade (and his wonderful wife Char) were the first two people to take Christina and I out for lunch (the next day, no less). It was a great opportunity to meet a couple who loved one another deeply, and to hear from a man who had a tremendous passion for the university, science, and the work he was called to do within it: chemistry. From that one conversation and that one lunch, I gained a great appreciation for John's love of science, but an even greater one for the way he saw it as a service to God for His glory and the good of others.
During a 53-year career at Iowa State University, John did a great deal of work; teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses, engaging in a variety of research projects, and, in collaboration with his ISU colleagues, published five books, 21 patents, and 428 papers. More info about his incredible work, specifically in inorganic chemistry, can be found here.
In addition to this, he was, by God's grace, used to help plant the Trinity Christian Reformed Church in Ames (1960) and served the church and community in a variety of ways.
John was illustrative of the man Kuyper describes in the quote above. He was a man who recognized that all the earth and everything in it belongs to God. He was a man who understood the great privilege, opportunity, and joy set before us in the world of science--the exploration, discovery, and understanding of the natural world. A world created by our awesome God and given to us that we might steward it well, and enjoy it deeply.
John was a man who saw his work at the university as a professor and researcher as his calling and service to God. But he also recognized the calling all of God's people have received: to glorify Him in all facets of life. And we have only to look at his life in the church and community to see how John powerfully lived this calling out. Even in the short time I had to get to know John--in Sunday school class, Areopagus meetings, and a couple of visits during his fight with cancer--he both challenged me in this and inspired me.
And now, John is in the presence of our God, no longer in pain, no longer suffering the ill effects of the fall and the sin and sickness that fill it. Not only this, but he is awaiting that day when God will renew all things, establishing His Kingdom in full; a day when he will receive a new, glorified body, and a day when I suspect that John will again take up the work of exploring all that God's perfected world has to offer. And though we may mourn his death, we will one day join him in rejoicing in the goodness, grace, and greatness of our God.
On behalf of everyone with Areopagus, we extend our thoughts and prayers to the Verkade family.