Creativity born of Godly inspiration

Posted 6/3/21

Daniel Najvar was in his deer stand, a place given to solitude and contemplation. His life had been interrupted by visions of increasing frequency and intensity. 

As he sat with his rifle …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Creativity born of Godly inspiration

Posted

Daniel Najvar was in his deer stand, a place given to solitude and contemplation. His life had been interrupted by visions of increasing frequency and intensity. 

As he sat with his rifle downrange, a wren landed on a branch easily within his reach. It was literally right in front of his face. Najvar prayed, “Lord if you really want me to be your witness, make this wren jump to my rifle barrel.” 

No sooner had he finished his thought that it happened. That was some 31 years ago.

After collecting himself from explaining this emotional event in his life, Najvar was able to summarize what it was that God was telling him. “It seemed a simple thing,” he stated, “I was to make him known.”  

What followed was a life dedicated to God, the church and to being a proponent of what Najvar calls, “The magnificence of God that is nature.”

Najvar practices a unique method in meeting this tasking. He creates exceptional woodwork which illustrates the teachings of Christianity. 

Before, however, examining some of the teaching aids which he creates, it is instructive to examine  Najvar’s life before that moment in his deer stand. 

Born the third of 11 children, Najvar’s roots are in the Worthing community of Hallettsville in Lavaca County. A natural curiosity gave rise to an interest in chemistry. He took to chemistry easily and even applied it by building resin canoes while in high school. Najvar earned the Texas Chemical Council Award while at Tuloso-Midway High School just northwest of Corpus Christi.

Najvar completed an associate’s degree at Delmar College and earned a full degree in chemistry from the University of Texas in 1964. He then began a long career with Dow Chemical. 

Najvar’s work at Dow took him from Freeport to Tulsa, Baton Rouge and eventually back to Freeport. It was in Baton Rouge where he received his first experience in research chemistry.

“It was extremely creative work, in uncharted waters of the field,” he recounted. “We were developing reactive polymers on the cutting edge of known technologies.”

It was while engaged in a particularly-challenging assignment trying to create a polymer which was resilient, light-weight, water-based and strong, that Najvar had his first dramatic religious experience.

“I had been calling professional colleagues around the world, searching for the last piece of my polymer puzzle, when, in a dream, God said, ‘Daniel, this is what you do’.”

What followed was transformational change in his life. Just as in Exodus when Moses protested at being designated to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Najvar likewise questioned why he was being called. 

By his own admission, while he may have struggled initially, he grew to better understand this calling.

“I have learned that there are no coincidences in this life,” he reflected. “Everything in nature is the manifestation of God’s desire.”

The visions – called interlocutions – continued. In 1990, in a particularly poignant event, he was told that he would receive a spiritual explanation for the events of one’s life. 

Although, today, he cringes a bit at relaying that episode in the deer stand when he challenged God, he explained that, as mortals, we do not have complete enlightenment. 

Having received the confirmation of his assignment, he set out to use his wood-working skills as a way to make Jesus known. His initial endeavor was to create a prayer stick which could be used in the same fashion as a set of Rosary beads.  

From stick rosaries, he began working with driftwood collected from his home near the mouth of the Brazos River. He sought out wind-fallen branches and storm-fallen trees. 

His creative work has continued unabated since that initial creation. Guiding his efforts are two of his favorite biblical verses: Romans 1:20 “Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, have been clearly perceived in the things that have been made;” and, Wisdom 13:5 “For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen.”

His work commenced in earnest. Having relocated to Lake Fork in 2005 with his wife, Bonnie, he now creates his honorariums and hands-on show and tell pieces next to his shed, under the shade of a large ash tree.

“I don’t have a workshop…I just haul whatever I need out of my shed and work under the tree,” he explained. 

Najvar will work with any wood, but there are favorites, black walnut, bois d’arc, mesquite and pecan among them. 

His creations are no doubt beautiful to view, but many are made specifically as hands-on teaching tools about Christianity. The large staff (see adjacent photo) is an excellent illustration of this beauty, while his creation called “the Narrow Gate” (also photographed) is a hands-on teaching tool to illustrate the gifts of the Holy Spirit and how they are centered by fear of the Lord.

The retired chemist has also used prose to forward his messages. In 1994, he published a collection entitled, “From my Father’s Table.” It is the wood-working, however, which continues to capture Najvar’s passion. 

Najvar summarized, “It is my hope to create, each time, a sense of spirituality from the beauty of wood in its natural state.” He expressed that we must share with one another what God gives us, as that is the nature of community.  Najvar smiled, “We must see God in creation.”