Before the experiences, I was pretty confused around the whole idea of God. Raised Christian (Lutheran) in Iowa, I was taught to believe what I assume was the standard line for a long time, that God was some kind of being — maybe a super old guy with a very long beard — sitting far off in the clouds, in a place called heaven. The way I heard it, God was both loving and wrathful, loving and judgmental; God was love and something else that was not love.
That idea of God made some sense to me when I was young, that God would be capable of both love and punishment, and so from an early age I tried to be a good person in the world, perhaps primarily out of the fear of being punished in some way while I was still alive, or being judged unworthy of heaven when I died.
The experiences, however, showed me that I was completely mistaken about absolutely everything where God was concerned, and because of that I was completely mistaken about absolutely everything.
God exists, yes, there is something so much larger, more powerful, and deeply loving than we could ever imagine. But God was never a being with human form, never a man or a woman. What God is is formless, changeless, and eternal Being — or Love, or Peace, or Joy, or Truth; whatever you prefer to call it — in a way beyond the capacity of words to adequately describe. In the experience of it, it was completely clear that God — this Giant Love — is what is. Is what is True. Is what is Real.
And maybe most life-changing was the realization that where I’d previously thought that God was both light and dark, love and punishment, it turns out there is not a lick of darkness in the Love that God is. Contrary to what I’d believed before, there is no judgment, no wrath, and no punishment in God. There is no idea of sin, no concept of forgiveness. Everything that I had feared about the existence of God, in fact, was not true at all.
Love does not plan or think or judge. Love does not do; it simply is.
I know this is tricky to comprehend, but Love is incapable of being anything other than itself. God is just Love, just Light, and that is all. And everything that exists, that has any reality to it, exists in Love.
So what does this mean?
It means that God -- this Giant Eternal Love -- has nothing to do with the suffering of this world. It doesn't create suffering; it doesn't punish; it doesn't use suffering in any way to teach lessons. It is incapable of creating anything that is not like itself: Love. It is incapable of knowing anything that is not like itself: Love.
It knows the eternal Truth of who we are -- not personalities in bodies floating on a rock through space -- but the same eternal Love that it is. We could not be created in anything other than the image of Love -- timeless, formless, and eternal -- but since we have free will, we have to choose to remember that Truth for ourselves.
Each of us holds the memory of this Truth in our mind. It's just been covered over by layers of guilt and fear, by the belief that we have somehow abandon God. But it would be impossible to be separate from God, separate from Love, because then God would not be God. Source would not be Source. Love would not be Love. We've never actually left the Garden of Eden; we're just dreaming that we have.