Brother Ike represents each of us. Our lives are the yard that we strive to maintain and unfortunately we each have myriad sins and habits (rocks) that we are trying to remove. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ each of us can be free of the burdens that weigh us down and cause us to stumble, but this doesn’t come without effort. We are expected to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” James 1:22. Christ changes the person, but only if the person is willing to change.
Most of us truly want to change, but how do we go about it. Well, we have a couple of tools. The first is the pickaxe of self-inventory, which allows us to dig deep and uncover not only the sins we may be hiding, but the motivations for those sins. The second tool is repentance, which (like Herbert the Magnificent) is specially designed to root out those sins no matter how deeply they are ingrained in us. Repentance never breaks and never wears out.
The wonderful wife in the story represents our Heavenly Father who desires with all of His heart that we change, but won’t force us. He will cheer us on every step of the way and praise even the tiniest improvement. He knows that this mortal life is short and that we don’t have much time, but He gives us every opportunity to come unto Him. He also knows that at some point after this life, we will have to stand before Him and be judged. We will condemn ourselves if we have chosen not to change in this life, just as Brother Ike would have to deal with the remaining rocks in the yard when it came time to mow.
Just as Brother Ike chose a seemingly small stone to remove, but found it more difficult than expected, we often try to change our lives in seemingly small ways (keeping the Sabbath day holy or trying to stop swearing) only to find that the sins are deeply entrenched and require some real effort. When we do finally unearth a sin, it’s not enough to leave it lying around in our lives. We must “roll it to the edges of the wilderness” by enduring to the end. Just as Brother Ike did, we can use those stones as barriers to prevent ourselves and others from future sins.
As Brother Ike dug in his yard he sometimes found that the stones would overlap. Often our sins are entangled. Inappropriate TV or music may lead to foul language. Indulging in alcohol often leads to immorality. When we are trying to clear our lives of the sins that we bear, we should remember that even the smallest (the fist-sized rocks) matter. Unlike stones, sins have a tendency to grow unless they are rooted out. And when turn away from sin it leaves a vacancy that must be filled (hopefully with something good) or we will slip back into those sins. Remember when Christ spoke about the evil spirits who were cast out of a house and then returned in greater force?
The swarming mosquitoes represent the many temptations that beset us. They often distract us and keep us from doing what we need to be doing. The temptations will always be there, but how do we protect ourselves? Scripture study, prayer, church attendance, service, etc. They are called Sunday school answers for a reason- they really are answers.
As much as we would like other people to get rid of our sins, that is solely between us and the Lord. Others can help, but we have to make the choice. We also cannot simply “buy another house.” This is your life and your responsibility. We all have sins, we’ve all made mistakes, but it’s where we go from here that matters.
When the day of reckoning finally comes, we will stand before our Maker to be judged. Despite our best efforts, we cannot satisfy the demands of justice. We will have a perfect recollection of all our guilt and we will condemn ourselves. As an unknown author once said, “Hell is the knowledge of opportunity lost; the place where the man I am comes face to face with the man I might have been.” But through the grace of Jesus Christ we can be cleansed “after all we can do.” We aren’t perfect, but we can be worthy. We can kneel before Him at that day in gratitude and humility instead of crouching in shame.