I have read it somewhere that once upon a time in New Guinea, it was the case where when strangers met that they would start talking about their connections and friends and relatives in the hope of finding someone in common between them, lest they be compelled as strangers to fight each other. It is a shame that they were not so fond of genetic genealogy, because the general meta is that we are all cousins of each other and are all related if not descended from virtually every ancient grave that is dug up, which means that we have an interest, although exactly how we do not know, that everyone and that every ancient body is treated with respect and consideration. We are all kin, after all.
One of the more unfortunate aspects of life is that we do not know how much of it we have left until it is usually too late. Far too often in my life I have seen people, including relatives and friends, who have left this life far earlier than they or I wished. And often it was not clear until the very end how things were going. While there is breath, after all, there is hope that God will send a miracle to prolong life and to get rid of whatever is destroying that life. Once someone has died, we know we will go to them, as David said after the death of his young son with Bathsheba, but they will not come to us.
Given that we do not know when the bell will toll for us, and given that we are at least potentially if not actually connected to everyone else we may ever meet, how we live has a lot of consequences both now and for a long time to come. As was the case with David and Paul, we may be forgiven and made right with God but may have to deal with the consequences and repercussions of our actions that may last a very long time and spiral into many different and painful directions. There are a great many people in this world who want things to go back to where they were but who find that their actions have closed doors that were once open and have made it impossible for things to be as they were, and require a long time of trying to earn back even a very limited amount of trust.
Likewise, there are things that can only be done while we are alive. If we have been called for some purpose, that purpose may require certain things to be done by us while we live and breathe. And if we fail to do those things, we may have to deal with serious consequences because we did not realize that time was limited and that we may had hardened our destiny through the repeated choices we made not to act on what we knew to be true. It may be hard to act on the truth, it may be unpopular, and it may cost us something now, but it may also cost us a lot not to act on it when we face our inevitable judgment, when the bell tolls eventually for us.
We should find purpose within the trials and suffering we endure during this lifetime and use them to connect with others, because they are our brothers and sisters–or our potential ones. We go through these situations for a reason and our time is limited in finding commonality with those we come into contact with. But this is our mission in life, that we leave a legacy of empowerment for those in our small corner of the world. When we know better, we must do better by living as a light for others to follow. Faithful trust in God, displayed by sharing the gifts He has given us to others, is the definition of a profitable life, and it is our duty to redeem the time we have. If we strive to fulfill our potential, we will have no regrets when the bell tolls.
It is indeed true that if we serve God faithfully that we should have no regrets when the bell tolls, but it can often be difficult for people to connect in the face of trials. Unless we know better, it is hard to know the extent to which we suffer in common with those around us.