I was six years old walking along the railroad tracks that ran next to my Nana's house where my family lived. I could see the old, green house about 300 yards away through the tears in my eyes. My hand was hurting and my feet were stumbling, but I kept crying and walking towards my home. On one of my walks through the woods I had come upon something metal sitting in the grass and leaves. I had reached down to grab it and sprung a leg trap meant to catch foxes and raccoons. I tried to pull it apart but couldn't. I did manage to loosen the chain, however, and then headed home with the trap on my fingers and tears running down my face.
As I approached the house I saw my Dad hoeing the weeds in our garden. I started crying even harder and ran up to him holding out my hand. My Dad sprang into action and had the trap off in a second. Then he knelt down and checked my fingers for a long time to make sure I didn't have any serious damage. Finally satisfied that I would be alright he smiled at me and patted me on my shoulder. He took my hand and had me walk him back to where the trap was originally. Then he dropped it without resetting it.
On the way back home I wondered if he was going to punish me or even scold me for being so foolish, but he never said a word. I guess he felt I had learned my lesson and would never dare touch one of those traps again. Remembering that day my only regret is that I don't remember ever having said, "Thanks Dad!" for what he had done.
Still, looking back made me realize that it is never too late to say what needs said. Even though Dad is now in Heaven with Mom and Nana, I know he can still hear me say, "Thanks Dad for being so strong, wise, and kind that day. Thanks for letting me screw up, make mistakes, and find my own way in this world. Thanks Dad for the things you taught me and the love you gave me. Thanks for watching over me while you where here on Earth and for watching over me now that you are in Heaven."
Over the years too I have done a lot of things far more foolish than I did that day. Through them all, though, my Heavenly Father never punished me. He let me learn my lessons and offered me only love and forgiveness when I ran crying into His arms. Like my earthly father He watched over me with unconditional love and let me find my own way back to Him. That is why I am who I am today. That is why I now say, "Thank you God" every chance I get. May you do the same. May you fill all of your days with love, learning, thankfulness, and joy.