In 1967, Mike shipped out to Viet Nam, where his artillery gun crew lived with a Green Beret unit on the edge of no-man’s-land. Their compound was surrounded by two, 8-foot, barbed wire fences, and then 100 yards of open field laced with land mines and anti-personnel ordnance. For four months, they provided fire support for the patrols, but encountered no direct attack on their compound.

There were trails through the mines that the Green Berets used to come in and out from the jungle on patrol. One afternoon a Soldier ventured across one of these trails, having spotted some fruit hanging on the trees at the edge of the jungle.

As he crossed, some of the gunners under Mike’s command were watching, and commented on how quiet things had been: They had never had a direct attack on their position; it had been a week since they had been called upon to provide supporting fire, and even that was for a unit near the limits of their range.

“Why can’t we go outside the fence for awhile? The Berets do it all the time…” they asked.

The Soldier after the fruit had nearly reached the edge of the forest when he stopped suddenly and took a step back. He turned abruptly and began to run back toward the fence. Then, automatic weapons fire ripped from the jungle, killing the Soldier before he hit the ground.

The quiet that had lasted for weeks was shattered by incoming mortar rounds, and the North Vietnamese Army poured out of the jungle, many following the very route the Soldier had just taken through the minefield.

For three hours, the fighting was intense — often hand-to-hand. Mike ordered his troops to crank down their mortar and fire beehive shrapnel rounds at the incoming NVA. They held their position, but at the cost of many killed or severely wounded, including Mike.

Years later, Mike told his friends, “You know why I don’t fight God when it comes to areas He tells me in His Word to avoid? Because I’ve seen what it’s like to walk outside the fence. I don’t want any part of it.” (Little House on the Freeway, Tim Kimmel, pages 63-65)

As leaders set limits for their Soldiers and parents set boundaries for their children, God sets limits for us — for our own spiritual, emotional and physical health! The consequences are not always so abrupt or severe, but they are assured. Whether the consequences of joy and contentment derived from His presence, or the emptiness and depression from being far from Him, they are ours to choose.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. The one who sows to please his sinful nature from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:9,8)