Getting to Chayei Sarah, a few quick ideas on this short Friday:
1) The pasuk first describes Lavan as running to greet Eliezer (24:29 - vayaratz...) but then continues the description of the scene (24:30) by telling us "vayavo el haish", he approached Eliezer. The Meshech Chochma suggests that the reason Lavan ran to greet Eliezer was because he mistakenly thought that Eliezer was there to invite him to be Avraham’s son-in-law. The gemara darshens (Baba Basra 16b) the pasuk, “Hashem beirach es Avraham bakol,” to mean that Avraham also had a daughter. Lavan assumed what better match for this girl than himself! However, as the parsha continues, “When he saw the ring and the bracelet…” which Eliezer had given Rivka, it dawned on Lavan that it was not he who Eliezer had come for, but rather his sister. Lavan immediately slowed down, no longer running with the same show of enthusiasm.
There is an element of self-centeredness to Lavan's reaction. Perhaps this is why later the parsha speaks of the dialogue between Eliezer and "Lavan and Besuel," mentioning Lavan even before his own father. Lavan's ego craved being the center of attention. If he could not gain fulfillment for that need through being the object of Eliezer's interest, he would fulfill it by managing the negotiations.
We often hear about the danger of negiyos, but like all kochos hanefesh, there is a positive side to negiyos as well. Look at the zerizus Lavan showed when he thought Eliezer was there for him! The Shomeir Emunim writes that even the greatest tzadikim at times lose their motivation, kal v'chomer the rest of us. There is nothing wrong with contemplating the gadlus and reward that comes from Torah -- what's in it for us -- as a means to regain that motivation.
2) Meforshim (Seforno, Kli Yakar, Ishbitza) explain that when Yitzchak went out to the field to daven (as Chazal explain the pasuk), his intent was to pray for the shidduch that was in the works. He looked up and saw the approaching camels and there was Rivka, his bride. Hashem responds to our tefilos before they even escape our lips -- terem nikra'u v'ani e'eneh.
But was it really Yitzchak's davening, or intent to daven, which caused his shidduch to be brought to fruition? Wasn't it the efforts of Avraham in sending Eliezer (which Yitzchak seems to have played no role in) and Eliezer's efforts in carrying out his mission which were the crucial ingredients? Yitzchak's tefilah after the job was over seems too little too late to have made any difference. Imagine the askanim and ba'alei batim who get together and raise funds and build a shul and along comes the Rov and says a kapitel of tehillim before cutting the ribbon on the front door -- thanks, but we could have done it without you.
Apparently the whole chaim of events, starting with Avraham's charge to Eliezer, was in fact all caused by Hashem preparing a response to Yitzchak's tefilah. It is that one kapitil of tehillim at the end which brings together all the people and money and ingredients to build the shul (which in no way diminishes their efforts).
Along the same lines, Rashi comments earlier in the parsha that the words "yosheiv" in the pasuk "Efron yosheiv b'toch bnei Cheis" is written missing a vav because Efron was appointed leader on that very day so that negotiations with Avraham would be done through a distinguished person. Rav Shteinman writes based on the Matnos Kehunah that the Midrash does not mean to celebrate the deference which the Bnei Cheis showed to Avraham, but rather the pasuk is celebrating the effect which Avraham's presence had on the Bnei Cheis. Even though Efron would otherwise not have deserved to be made leader, the kavod which Avraham deserved caused his appointment to occur. Tzadikim have a spiritual impact that shapes events in the physical world (as the Nefesh haChaim discusses at great length.)