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Marriage: Two-Part Invention (Genesis 18:1-15; 12:10-13; 21:1-7)

By Calvin Miller
"Ah, Abie, I'm old! I'm a decrepit crone, not a graceful deer. How can my breasts satisfy you at all times? Gravity, my dear, has ruined everything."

"No, Sarah, I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you they will kill me but let you live. Say you are my sister." (Genesis 12:13).

"I'm not beautiful. I'm 70 years old."

"So! Look at Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren. They're all 70, too. Please say you are my sister."

"OK, Abie: Look, everybody, I'm a graceful deer -- a loving doe. I'm a living knock-out with an AARP card. I'm his sister."

She thus obeyed Abraham by telling a little white lie, but then it's always a joy to confess to being younger. It was how she made herself beautiful -- by serving. For servants are never ugly. Servants by serving make themselves beautiful. A selfish, demanding, and arrogant woman can't rub enough Estee Lauder on herself to make her beautiful. A man can't put on enough "Obsession" to cover up a dour spirit.

Your beauty should not come from outer adornments such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should come from your inner self -- the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight (1 Peter 3:3-6).

For this is the way that holy women of the past, who put their hope in God, used to make themselves beautiful -- like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master.

Thus the music flowed -- a two-part invention. Sarah, I beg you, say you are my sister. Hey, everybody, I'm his sister.

The music I hear with you is more than music.

The bread that I break with you is more than bread.

-- Conrad Aiken

The two-part invention is not a matter of calling anyone your mate but of calling your mate your friend, and seeing not just your mate as young but seeing the world around you as young. Leigh Hunt cried in joy as an old man:

Jennie kissed me when we met,

Jumping from the chair she sat in.

Time, you thief, who love to get

sweets into your list, put that in.

Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,

Say that health and wealth have missed me.

Say I'm growing old but add, Jenny kissed me!

But the music reaches an apex when the two can agree that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your lives together. And it doesn't matter how old you are, God has a plan for your lives together. In Genesis 18:6, Abraham - having met a trio of hungry angels -- runs to Sarah and says,

"Honey, bake some bread."

"Guess who's coming to dinner?"

"Sidney Poitier? Sandra Dee?"

"No -- God!"

"Oh, honey, I can't cook for angels. I get nervous just cooking for Baptists."

The angels start talking about God's will and Sarah starts listening at the keyhole. It's always the most dangerous of sports to listen at keyholes.

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